Just as no two people are exactly the same, neither are their cancers. Each patient’s cancer is fueled by different elements that help cancer cells develop, survive, invade and grow.
These elements – or genetic differences – are the reason there is no routine cancer. Researchers and oncologists at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – James Cancer Hospital and Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James) are using genomic sequencing to study the unique genetic makeup of each patient’s cancer.
Looking at tumors at the molecular level allows our experts to uncover what drives each individual’s cancer. Even if two people are diagnosed with the same kind of cancer, genetic differences mean that, while one person may respond well to a treatment, another may not.
“For years, we diagnosed a patient’s cancer by location and stage,” says Michael A. Caligiuri, MD, director of the Comprehensive Cancer Center and CEO of The James, “but now we’re looking at that ‘thumbprint’ – the very DNA of a tumor, so we can predict and create the most effective treatment path for each person.”
As they discover genetic variances in patients, researchers and oncologists use that information to develop the most advanced targeted treatments in the lab that can be translated to clinical applications, leading to better outcomes, faster responses, fewer side effects and more hope.
Clinical and basic-science research at the OSUCCC – James has resulted in a number of novel, targeted treatments and has led to improved methods of screening for certain cancers. For example, all newly diagnosed colorectal cancer patients at the OSUCCC – James and their biological relatives are screened for Lynch syndrome, which is characterized by inherited genetic mutations that increase one’s risk of colorectal, ovarian and uterine cancer. Individuals who carry the genetic traits can then be screened more frequently in hopes of preventing cancer. Researchers and oncologists at the OSUCCC – James are constantly conducting this type of research, studying both normal and cancerous cells to uncover new genetic markers and inherited mutations that drive cancer clinical trials and the pioneering of new therapies.