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Harvard Medical School's Seth Cassel and Cigall Kadoch write in an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun that the recent TAILORx trial did more than find that some women diagnosed with breast cancer could avoid chemotherapy and all its side effects. It, they say, shows "genomic-based medicine is truly improving the lives of patients."

Since the Human Genome Project began, Cassel and Kadoch note that genomics has been promising to improve the understanding of disease, though they say that in the time since many have grown dubious that it will have much clinical utility. But this and subsequent studies, they say, could quell that doubt.

In the future, they say studies could include a large number of genes than did TAILORx as well as examine gene expression levels, noncoding variants, and differences between cells in tumors at the single-cell level.

"It is crucial that stakeholders in the private sector, public sector and academia recognize the power of cancer genomics and work to address the scientific, institutional and cost hurdles that remain," they argue. "By embracing this critical arena of scientific research, cancer genomics has the power reshape the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other diseases, giving new hope to millions of patients."