Personalized treatment of cancer and other diseases may one day be realized, and exciting new research is building on scientific discoveries of recent years that could make it possible to tailor treatments to the unique genetic characteristics of each patient and that patient’s cancer. As of right now, however, personalized medicine remains an emerging field with many knowledge gaps.
A precursor to personalized medicine (sometimes called precision medicine) is targeted therapy. Targeted therapy is the use of cancer drugs that attack cancer by honing in on specific cancer cell functions. Older cancer drugs acted against healthy and cancerous cells without much distinction. Targeted drugs may produce fewer toxic side effects than their predecessors, but they are still not tailored to an individual patient’s tumor or genetics.