Treatments & Procedures

Precision Oncology

What is Precision Oncology?

Precision oncology is a way of treating cancer that is targeted to the individual. It is an emerging field of cancer treatment and is offering hope to many cancer patients.

Precision oncology is a type of precision medicine, or personalized medicine, as it is also known. Precision medicine looks at the individual and their illness rather than taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Doctors consider the individual’s genetics, their environment and their lifestyle, to make sure the most effective treatment is given.

Precision oncology applies this approach to cancer care. Oncology doctors will look at a person’s genes, the characteristics of those genes, or the genes of their tumor.

Molecular testing

Molecular testing, also referred to as molecular, genetic, genomic or DNA testing, is the process that allows doctors to study a patient’s genes. Through a simple blood test, doctors can detect and amplify parts of your DNA or RNA which they know may be associated with certain health conditions or cancers.

There are several ways in which genetic material can be detected, including:

  • Chromosomal microarray analysis
  • Cytogenetic analysis
  • Fluorescent in situ hybridization

This information can be used to

  • Detect genetic risk factors for a number of diseases.
  • Diagnose some conditions such as breast cancer.
  • Give information on other elements within the body which might influence the way someone responds to treatment.
  • Plan the most effective treatment.
  • See how well a patient is responding to treatment.

There are two main types of molecular testing:

Genome Sequencing

Genomice sequencing looks at a cell’s genetic material to identify genes or gene changes. It can also determine whether someone carries a gene for a disease and is commonly used in pregnancy. Genomice sequencing is used in cancer treatment to assess a person’s response to medication – someone with a certain gene may be more likely to not respond or to have a negative reaction to certain medications.

Genetic Markers

Genetic markers are signals that indicate a suspected disease is present. Instead of sequencing a genome, genetic marker testing looks for these signals to diagnose a condition. COVID-19 PCR tests are one example. In cancer treatment, these tests are performed on tumors with genetic markers giving information on the type of cancer a person has and which type of treatment is most likely to be effective.

Next Generation Sequencing

Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) is a highly accurate type of molecular testing. It has revolutionized the process of analyzing genes by sequencing many DNA strands at the same time, and only needs a small sample input. Thousands of strands can be analyzed at once, in multiple samples, allowing doctors to determine different types of genetic features in one go.

NGS sequencing is cost-effective, time-efficient yet is highly sensitive and reliable. It is advantageous over traditional methods as it can detect smaller genetic variations, giving doctors a more comprehensive overview of a person’s genome and their genetic risk factors.

Benefits of Precision Oncology

When doctors understand someone’s genes, they can discover changes that might indicate how they will respond to treatment.

For example, they may respond better to a certain type of treatment, than someone else with the same type of cancer who doesn’t have that specific gene change. The genetic information obtained can also be used to diagnose cancer, make an accurate prognosis, and review how the patient and their cancer are responding to treatment.

By ensuring the safest and most effective treatment is being provided, doctors can decrease possible side effects and improve overall chances of survival.

Precision Prevention Oncology

In addition to shaping cancer treatment, our genes can also give us information about our risk of developing cancer – and what we can do to prevent it.

Our genes are inherited from our parents and certain inherited faults can increase the risk of developing different types of cancer. We can’t do anything to change our genes, but by knowing if an individual is at risk, doctors can recommend preventive measures such as early or more regular screening. It can also help inform patients of changes to their lifestyle which can lower the risk of cancer developing.

Which Cancers can Precision Oncology Treat?

Each type of cancer has its own characteristics and by applying precision oncology, doctors are hoping to discover these characteristics and develop the best possible treatment plans, based on the individual’s diagnosis. Precision oncology is used to treat many types of cancer, including:

The Future of Cancer Treatment

Precision oncology is an exciting area of medicine at the forefront of innovative cancer care. The Oncology Institute at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi is offering more and more precision oncology treatment options, improving the effectiveness of treatments and outcomes for patients.

© Copyright 2023 Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. All rights reserved.

This information is provided by Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi, part of the M42 group, and is not intended to replace the medical advice of your doctor or health care provider. Please consult your health care provider for advice about a specific medical condition.

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