Living with cancer blog

Molecular profiling: Personalizing your cancer treatment

By Sheryl M. Ness, R.N. July 3, 2013

We all have individual differences — our hair color, eye color, personality and physical traits — that are a result of our genes. It's no surprise to discover that the genetic makeup of each cancer is also different.

Over the years, cancer researchers and specialists have discovered that not all cancers are alike. Individualizing cancer treatment, with a look to the molecular or genetic level, can help your cancer doctor tailor the best treatment for you.

Molecular profiling is a method of testing that looks at each person's cancer tumor and studies the genetic characteristics as well as any unique biomarkers. The information gathered is used to identify and create targeted therapies that are designed to work better for a specific cancer tumor profile.

At Mayo Clinic, researchers have created a new program called the Center for Individualized Medicine.

Researchers are studying the entire spectrum of diseases as well as various cancer types to better understand how molecular and genetic differences can be more or less likely to respond to specific treatment. Based on the information, treatment can be recommended that targets specific biomarkers or genes.

Targeted therapies can be more effective, with fewer side effects and a better chance of curing the cancer and/or controlling the tumor growth. As researchers learn more about genetic and molecular differences of cancer, additional targeted therapies will be developed.

To learn more about molecular profiling and if this is an option for you — you may want to consider asking your cancer doctor a few of these questions:

  • With my cancer type, what are the benefits of molecular profiling?
  • Is my tumor eligible for molecular profiling?
  • Will molecular profiling better determine my treatment options?
  • When should my tumor be examined?
  • What is the cost of molecular profiling? Will my insurance cover it?
  • What if I've already had treatment — can I still have molecular profiling?
  • Are there any risks?

Learn more about molecular profiling including great videos explaining the topic from Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine (www.mayoresearch.mayo.edu/center-for-individualized-medicine/).

I'd love to hear from people who have had molecular profiling for your cancer type — what was your experience?

Follow me on Twitter at @SherylNess1. Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

With

Sheryl M. Ness, R.N.

Follow on Twitter: @SherylNess1

Join the discussion at #livingwithcancer.

1 Comments Posted

Jul. 03, 2013