A crystal ball—now that is a tool oncologists would embrace. How
many times have they advised patients to undergo chemotherapy, radiation,
or both, knowing full well that at the end of treatment, these patients will
likely have to wait years before knowing if they have truly beaten the disease?
The search for prognostic and predictive markers of treatment outcomes
has been an ongoing effort for decades. "We all want to have a golden hit—the
one and only factor that tells you whether the patient is likely to go on
to die or likely to survive," said Emiel Rutgers, MD, a breast surgeon at
the Netherlands Cancer Institute, in Amsterdam. "But it's never happened because
cancer is a multifactorial thing," he added.
Hampton T. Breast Cancer Gene Chip Study Under Way. JAMA. 2004;291(24):2927-2930. doi:10.1001/jama.291.24.2927