Limits to Personalized Cancer Medicine


As money is prepared to be poured into personalized cancer medicine, the NEJM has published an opinion that the promises of personally-targeted therapy are little better than the promises of ISO accreditation.

Limits to Personalized Cancer Medicine. Ian F. Tannock, M.D., Ph.D., and John A. Hickman, D.Sc. N Engl J Med 2016; 375:1289-1294 September 29, 2016 DOI: 10.1056/NEJMsb1607705.

limits-to-personalized-cancer-medicine-10-1056nejmsb1607705

Current studies show no or little improvement in duration or quality of life.  In fact, sequencing tumour DNA seldom gives information that is useful for treatment.  And tumours are always mutating to find new pathways drugs aren’t blocking.

The authors “suggest that the clinical benefit of personalized medicine as it is currently practiced will be limited.”

They conclude, “We do not suggest abandoning personalized medicine but rather evaluating it in a small number of well-designed collaborative programs, with research programs that recognize and combat the limitations we have described.”

Maybe this will happen but we are still waiting for well-designed collaborative programs to evaluate accreditation.

 

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