resize_shutterstock_49898080IBA, the world’s leading provider of proton therapy solutions, and Royal Philips, a leader in health technology, are collaboratively stepping up efforts in adaptive proton therapy planning. The long-term collaboration between the two companies includes the joint marketing and sales of Philips imaging and clinical informatics solutions in oncology and IBA’s proton therapy solutions and the joint development of new products for image-guided proton therapy and treatment modalities. By merging their respective expertise in image guidance and therapy, Philips and IBA continue to co-innovate in diagnostic and therapeutic oncology solutions with the ultimate objective of enabling more effective and personalized cancer care1.

The strategic partners have already secured certified compatibility between Philips Pinnacle 3 therapy planning software and IBA’s proton therapy solution, and they will now jointly develop next-generation proton therapy planning methods to further increase efficiencies in the patient treatment. This advanced imaging technology provides the large field-of-view needed for enhanced image guidance during proton therapy procedures. To this end, a new software algorithm with an optimized balance between speed and image quality has been developed by the two long-term partners. This is just one example of the continued efforts to refine and enhance personalized care treatment approaches for different and varied malignancies.

Personalized medicine is used to learn about a person’s genetic makeup and how their tumor grows. Using this data, doctors hope to find prevention, screening, and treatment strategies that may be more effective and tailored to the patient’s genetic profile. They also want to find treatments that cause fewer side effects than the standard options. By performing genetic tests on the cancer cells and on normal cells, doctors may be able to customize treatment to each patient’s needs2. Personalized cancer therapy is a treatment strategy centered on the ability to predict which patients are more likely to respond to specific cancer therapies. This approach is founded upon the idea that tumor biomarkers are associated with patient prognosis and tumor response to therapy. In addition, patient genetic factors can be associated with drug metabolism, drug response and drug toxicity. Personalized tumor molecular profiles, tumor disease site and other patient characteristics are then potentially used for determining optimum individualized therapy options. Tumor biomarkers can be DNA, RNA, protein and metabolomic profiles that predict therapy response. However, the most recent approach is the sequencing of tumor DNA, which can reveal genomic alterations that have implications for cancer treatment3.

Creating a personalized cancer screening and treatment plan includes2:

  • Determining the chances that a person will develop cancer and selecting screening strategies to lower the risk
  • Matching patients with treatments that are more likely to be more effective and cause fewer side effects
  • Predicting the risk of recurrence, which is the return of the same cancer from the original index episode

Before personalized medicine, most patients with a specific type and stage of cancer received the same treatment. However, it became clear that some treatments worked better for some patients, than for others. The growth in the field of genetics has led researchers to find genetic differences in people and their tumors. In turn, this explained many of the different responses to different oncology treatment regimens. Patients with cancer may now still receive a standard treatment plan, such as surgery to remove a tumor and one of a handful of different chemotherapy combinations that has been used in a specific type of cancer with varying levels of success. Now, oncologists may also be able to recommend some type of personalized cancer treatment based on genetic markers, etc. that can predict from currently available data which oncology therapeutic regimen may yield the best outcome for a patient with a specific genetic type. Personalized cancer treatment is now an active part of the treatment plan or as part of many clinical trial treatment protocols.

There are many types of cancer treatments where genetic testing and screening can help support a targeted and tailored individual approach to the best overall treatment plan for the patient. Some of the types of cancer that currently uses some form or level of personalized medicine to customize the planned treatment regimen for an individual patient includes but is not limited to:

  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
  • Kidney cancer
  • Lung cancer
  • Melanoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Some types of leukemia and lymphoma
  • Some types of childhood cancers

Readers of this blog are highly encouraged to thoroughly review the information and pertinent references provided in the links below as well as researching and identifying information and data available in the public domain that provides greater details and insights into the issue of personalized medicine in the treatment of cancer.