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Beyond Sequencing

Precision medicine for cancer is more than just genome sequencing, Medscape writes.

"Precision medicine is not just sequencing; it's looking at a patient in the context of their environment, the type of clinical care they're getting, their interaction with their environment, and then the genomic analyses," Mark Rubin from Weill Cornell Medical College tells Medscape.

For instance, it adds that at the European Society for Medical Oncology annual meeting, University of British Columbia's David Huntsman said that cellular context is also important to consider. He noted that BRAF mutations behave differently in different cancer types, as melanomas with a BRAFV600E mutation typically respond well to vemurafenib, while colorectal cancers with the same mutation don't. In addition, Baylor University Medical Center's Carlos Becerra tells Medscape that alterations to signaling pathways can be important in cancer, but may fall outside genomic analyses.

Maurie Markman from the Cancer Treatment Centers of America adds that precision medicine is going to be a process, and researchers and clinicians are learning more about what various mutations in individual tumors and tumor types means.

Still, it adds that Huntsman noted in his talk that this new information would have to be folded in with what's already known. "We can't abandon pathology for the understanding of where the tumor came from; in the end, precision medicine will surely be a synthesis of the old and the new," he said.