By studying the genetic makeup of breast cancer patients, doctors are taking the next steps forward in delivering more personalized care to patients. Whole genome sequencing from cancers is not a new concept, but recently researchers have delved more deeply into the evolution of breast cancers identifying that it comes in four distinct types. Breaking down how the cells of each sub-type of the disease function is allowing for doctors to customize treatments for improved outcomes.
Even more promising, clinical research trials at a few select institutions around the country, including Cleveland’s University Hospitals Case Medical Center Seidman Cancer Center, are part of a development in a rising trend toward targeted treatments as a result of genomic profiling of tumors.
“The knowledge of the molecular underpinnings of a particular kind of breast cancer can improve the cure rates and even in the advanced disease setting improve quality of life and length of life,” says Lyndsay Harris, MD, Director, Breast Cancer Program, UH Seidman Cancer Center. “The cure of the disease is really our goal, and we are moving quickly toward a time when we can expect to cure the vast majority of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer at the earliest stages.”
Dr. Harris and her team are currently conducting a whole genome sequencing study to examine what changes in the tumor are unique to a breast cancer patient. The anticipated outcome is to determine who will benefit most from certain drug therapies and to use that information to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient involved.