Every single person is unique in their own way, and this is especially true regarding our bodies. Precision medicine takes into account one’s own unique bodily qualities and applies them to health care.
Precision medicine is a recent development in health care in which providers consider individual differences in genes, environment, and lifestyle while providing treatment and prevention. All of this information becomes useful in allowing doctors and researchers to find the appropriate course of treatment for a certain disease that is catered to a specific person. This differs from the usual “one-size-fits-all” way that medicine is handled. It is quite a new term, but it has been present throughout health care’s history. For example, a blood transfusion is not just given randomly. There has to be a blood type donor match. That is precision medicine at work in day-to-day health care.
In the past, this concept was known as “personalized medicine”. However, that term has been abandoned because it could lead people to believe that there are medications and procedures created for the sole use of a single person. That is not the case. Instead, precision medicine refers to classifying patients into categories that relate to their probability of contracting a particular disease, or how they react to different treatments.
The area of cancer has been the most positively affected by this approach. Genetic testing is being used to determine who is most likely to get cancer, and what type of cancer they are likely to develop. With that, there can be a proactive approach to lowering the chances of getting that cancer. A tumor has also been studied to discover how a particular cancer should be treated depending on the person’s genetics. It is being used to treat lung cancer, melanoma (skin cancer), colon cancer, and pancreatic cancer, as well as rare childhood illnesses, cystic fibrosis, and HIV.
Precision Medicine Initiative
Since precision medicine has been such an effective approach to health care, in 2015, President Obama launched the $200 million Precision Medicine Initiative. Two main goals drove the initiative. The first was to “jumpstart advanced research into personalized treatment, genomic testing, and rare diseases”. The second was “to enhance patient engagement and participation in the medical research process as a way of generating better data and more effective care”. Various medical professionals and researchers are joining together to generate all the research needed to make medicine more effective for the individual.
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