What is precision medicine?
The relatively recent ability to rapidly and affordably map out the genetic code of any individual person and any cancer they develop holds great promise for the design of targeted treatments for children with cancer, with the aim not only to improve cure rates but to also reduce toxicity. This type of precision medicine has been used successfully in some of the common adult cancers.
Precision medicine approaches involve the use of new treatments to target specific changes in individual patients’ tumour DNA. The goal is to individualise treatments according to the genetic characteristics of the patient’s cancer. This approach is in contrast with existing treatment protocols that define tumours mainly according to their location and use toxic drugs to kill cells in a much less targeted, less efficient way.