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June 2016

Universal Genomic Testing Needed to Win the War Against Cancer: Genomics IS the Diagnosis

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston
  • 2Division of Hematology and Oncology, Center for Personalized Therapy, Moores Cancer Center, University of California–San Diego, La Jolla
JAMA Oncol. 2016;2(6):719-720. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.0078

Is there enough benefit to justify sequencing all patients’ tumors? Yes.

A fundamental premise of oncology—indeed of all medicine—is that every disease, even an untreatable one, warrants a diagnosis. The light microscope, invented in the 1500s, is still used to diagnose cancer. Peering at the surface of cells to determine their tissue of origin renders a diagnosis. However, if we are to improve our ability to treat and defeat cancer, we must supplement this centuries-old technology with the “molecular microscope.” Genomic testing permits interrogation of the inside of the cell and definition of a tumor’s precise coding sequence. Genomics is the diagnosis, and the most powerful argument for its universal use is that every patient afflicted with cancer deserves a diagnosis.

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