Cancers is a complex disease. Nearly all parts of the body can have a cancer. The same part of body can have multiple different types of cancer. Traditionally for early stages, surgery, radiation and chemotherapy have formed the backbone of treatment. For more advanced stages chemotherapy, or in some cases, targeted therapy, form the main part of treatment.

So what is Precision Oncology?

Increasingly research suggests that behind the development, growth, and spread of many cancers, lie changes in the DNA - called gene mutations.

Precision Oncology is a field of medicine where the treating doctor can look at this specific change in the gene (the genetic mutation) in a cancer and tailor the treatment of cancer based on that mutation. This is dramatically different from what used to happen a few years back where all patients with cancer would be offered the same or nearly the same treatment irrespective of the sub-type of cancer the patient specific disease or general condition. The eventual goal is to improve cure rates, improve survival and minimise usage of costly or ineffective treatment.

Is Precision Oncology of any use in cancer treatment as of now ?

Non-small cell lung cancer, a type of lung cancer is a prime example of How precision oncology has changed the treatment landscape entirely. While earlier, all these patients would need chemotherapy, now Precision Oncology has brought about a paradigm shift in how one treats this disease. One can identify multiple different mutations present in the tumour DNA, which can then addressed by targeted therapy. These therapies are more effective, have less side effects than standard chemotherapy. In fact, now cancers of the large intestine, breast cancer, melanoma( a kind of skin cancer), blood cancers, ovarian cancers are treated increasingly based on precision oncology.

So what does it take to practice Precision Oncology?

First a good test is needed - usually Next Generation Sequencing. This can be done on the biopsy sample. If a biopsy sample is not Available then blood sample can also be used. The test can be done on tumour DNA, RNA or Protien. The correct test is needed, with the right turn around time while maintaining cost effectiveness.

The next step is the most crucial - interpretation of results - this involves a molecular oncologist and the treating doctors. This is followed by identification of the right targeted therapy and then administration of treatment.

Are there any other uses of Precision Medicine ?

Precision medicine can also predict if a particular person has a higher risk of getting a cancer or multiple cancers. If so, preventive lifestyle changes, medications and screening tests can be offered to these individuals.

So what does Max Healthcare offer in the field of Precision Medicine?

It’s important to understand “who” is the right patient for Precision medicine and “when” should it be offered.

Doctors at Max Healthcare have been at the forefront of precision medicine in India. We have the capacity to preform lab tests for precision medicines, we have experienced molecular oncologist and clinicians who can offer their expertise to patients. Complex cases are taken to Molecular Tumour Boards and decisions are arrived at after extensive multidisciplinary discussions.