Posted: April 27, 2016
(MedicalNewsToday.com) – “What treatment options are there?” This is one of the first questions to enter the minds of parents whose child receives a cancer diagnosis. Of course, the answer to this question is dependent on the type of cancer that has been diagnosed. But for children with solid tumors, the answer may also one day depend on their genetic characteristics.
The idea of treating a child with a solid tumor based on their genetic traits falls into a field known as “precision medicine,” and it is a field that has gained increasing interest for the treatment of disease in adults.
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “precision medicine is an emerging approach for disease treatment and prevention that takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle for each person.”
In simple terms, precision medicine is the opposite of the “one-size-fits-all” approach that has become the norm for the treatment of human disease. Instead, it refers to therapies that are tailored to each person.
In the case of a woman with breast cancer, for example, the patient may be treated based on the unique genetic mutations present in her breast tumor.
It is hoped that precision medicine will enable faster, more effective treatment for cancer and a wealth of other diseases.
But while the approach has gained acclaim as a feasible treatment strategy for adults with cancer, the development of personalized medicine for childhood cancers is lagging.