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December 27th, 2016

4 tips for patients seeking individualized medicine

By Sharon Rosen

By Susan Buckles, Public Affairs

dna-strand-blue-wpThe promise of precision medicine is becoming a reality as more doctors bring individualized therapies to the bedside. You or a family member could benefit if you suffer from illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, a rare undiagnosed disease or a genetics-based condition.  Individualized medicine, also known as precision or personalized medicine, is the concept that prediction, diagnosis, treatment and, eventually, prevention, can be targeted to your individual needs based on your genetic profile, environment and lifestyle.

But how do you seek these novel individualized therapies? It often starts with a conversation with your doctor. The Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine, a catalyst in moving personalized medicine therapies from the laboratory to clinical care, offers these tips on how to talk to your doctor about individualized medicine therapies:

  1. Ask whether applying genetic testing might improve ways of predicting, diagnosing and treating your condition.
  2. If you are having trouble with medications, ask your doctor if a type of DNA testing known as pharmacogenomics testing could identify treatments that are safer and work better with your genetic makeup.
  3. For cancer patients, ask if having your DNA sequenced would provide doctors molecular information to improve treatment plans.
  4. Ask if the DNA testing results can be integrated into your electronic health record, so all medical providers can access this data and coordinate your care.
Dr. Keith Stewart

Dr. Keith Stewart

“Precision medicine is already integrated into clinical care. It is important for patients to learn about options, so they can understand whether they are the right candidate for these targeted therapies,” says Keith Stewart, M.B., Ch.B., the Carlson and Nelson Endowed Director of the Mayo Clinic Center for Individualized Medicine. “They should approach their physicians, seeking an honest and open discussion about benefits and possible challenges to integrating these new therapies into their treatment plans.”

Those who should talk to their doctors about individualized medicine therapies include:

  1. Cancer patients whose tumors are not responding to their treatment plans may want to ask their physician about genetic testing to identify individualized therapies.
  2. People with a mysterious illness or rare disorder who have been visiting many doctors and clinics for years without getting a diagnosis might want to have DNA testing that could identify a genetic disorder.
  3. Couples who are planning a family and want to understand their genetic risk should seek DNA testing.
  4. Patients who have difficulties with medications that don’t work or are causing side effects might benefit from DNA testing.*

*Note that this is not a comprehensive list of all patients who should seek individualized therapies.

Dr. A. Keith Stewart is the Carlson Nelson Endowed Director, Center for Individualized Medicine; and Anna Maria and Vasek Polak Professor of Cancer Research, Division of Hematology-Oncology, Mayo Clinic.

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Tags: #Center for Individualized Mediicine, #Patient care, DNA Sequencing, Dr. Keith Stewart, Genetic Testing, individualized medicine, mayo clinic, medical research, personalized medicine, Precision Medicine, Uncategorized

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