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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.2-5 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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