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Precision Medicine, If You Can Get It

There are increasingly targeted therapies that can be offered to cancer patients based on their tumor's genetic profile, but as Newsweek writes, there are obstacles to their widespread use.

Precision oncology has led people with tumors previously thought to be untreatable to have a chance at a workable treatment. For instance, it notes that about half of lung cancer patients respond to a targeted treatment and that for half of those, the cancer doesn't seem to return.

But as Newsweek notes, not all patients get their tumors genetically profiled — testing can run $10,000 and is not always covered by insurance — and, if they do, there might not be a drug that targets their particular profile. Even patients for whom there is a targeted treatment don't always get it because, again, it can be expensive, it adds. Those aren't the only obstacles, it adds, as many patients seek treatment at community hospitals and from generalist oncologists who might not be as up to date on the latest treatments.

Newsweek estimates that precision medicine only helps a few percent of the 2 million people who are diagnosed with cancer in the US each year.

Still, Newsweek reports there are ongoing pushes to get precision oncology to benefit additional patients.