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October 2015

Brave-ish New World—What’s Needed to Make Precision Oncology a Practical Reality

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pathology, Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 2Havard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts
  • 3Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Boston, Massachusetts
JAMA Oncol. 2015;1(7):879-880. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2015.1540

A seductive vision for the future of clinical oncology permeates the popular press and marketing materials from hospitals and companies. It goes by a variety of names, such as personalized or precision cancer medicine, and promises that identifying genetic alterations in a patient’s cancer will guide the selection of treatments that produce clinical responses with minimal toxic effects.1 This vision is based on the striking success of a handful of targeted therapies whose efficacies are predicted by genetic biomarkers.25 While the number of patients who derive clinical benefit from analyzing their tumor genomes is currently quite small, the scientific rationale is compelling and describes a “brave new world” for cancer patients.

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