Finding the best care for every cancer patient can be difficult, as every patient has different needs. Precision care aims to provide the best treatment for every patient, meaning that they will be provided with the best drug at the best time in the best place. Unfortunately, problems exist within precision care. For many cancer patients, clinical trials will provide them with the best treatment but are not local. This means that patients must travel in order to do what’s best for their health. It’s difficult under any circumstances, much less during a global pandemic. It is because of this issue that medical professionals are working towards improving precision care, both in terms of providing local access to clinical trials and providing widespread access to tumor molecular profiling, which is a foundation of precision care.
What is Tumor Molecular Profiling?
In order to provide patients with the best cancer, it is necessary to understand each patient’s genomic profile. Variations within this profile can tell medical professionals how certain people will respond to certain medications. Tumor molecular profiling has become more widely used lately, and the FDA has begun approving cancer therapies based on the molecular changes they cause in a tumor rather than the tumor site.
But while there is an obvious benefit to this method, only 15% of advanced cancer patients receive tumor molecular profiling. This is a problem that needs to be fixed if medical professionals truly want to improve precision care as a whole.
Other Challenges for Precision Care
The availability of tumor molecular profiling is not the only challenge that precision care faces. Another issue is that many tumors do not meet the minimum surface area requirements that are needed to receive comprehensive tumor profiling. Those that are a sufficient size to receive testing then face health system issues. Implementing wide-spread testing is difficult for health systems, and it is an issue that needs to be overcome in order to make tumor molecular profiling more available.
Another challenge for precision care does not concern tumor molecular profiling but has to do with clinical trials. It is already difficult for patients to make the journey to participate in clinical trials, as they are not often offered locally. Now add a global pandemic that targets the immunocompromised and many do not want to risk their own health and safety to participate in a study. There has already been a notable decrease in enrollment in trials that are sponsored by the National Cancer Institute.
Fortunately, medical professionals are working together to address these problems. For example, a number of companies are working on “liquid biopsies” that can find tumor cells in the blood, therefore decreasing the need for standard biopsies. There is also working being done on educational campaigns, precision oncology programs, and other projects.
The Future of Precision Care
Hopefully the efforts that medical professionals are putting into improving precision medicine will result in better outcomes for patients. The work that is being done now will make it possible for patients to be prescribed the treatment that is the best for them that can be administered in the best place for them.
Read more about precision care here.