Cancer at the genetic level
Cancer begins when damage or changes (known as mutations) in a cell’s DNA cause it to grow out of control. This eventually forms a tumor. There are many factors that can influences these cellular changes, including:
- Genetic traits you’re born with
- Environmental influences
- Lifestyle differences
What we’ve found in recent years is that the pattern of mutations in a tumor (known as a tumor profile or a mutation profile) influences how cancer grows and spreads. Two patients with the same type of cancer may have different tumor profiles. And two patients with different types of cancer may have similar tumor profiles.
Henry Ford’s advances in precision medicine
Our journey to bring Precision Medicine and other advances to the Midwest region was introduced on June 29, 2016 by the White House as part of the Cancer Moonshot initiative. Steven N. Kalkanis, M.D., Henry Ford Cancer Institute medical director, joined Syapse, Henry Ford’s new Precision Medicine partner, at the Moonshot summit in Washington, D.C. to discuss their mutual data sharing and Precision Medicine commitment. The program will fully roll out by August 2017.
Collaborating with Syapse brings the Cancer Moonshot’s vision of improved care to the Midwest in a way that delivers treatment that is built around an individual – encompassing Henry Ford’s new customer promise “All for you.” This initiative is a huge step forward in cancer care, allowing us to bring highly advanced options to all our patients, at all cancer stages, where in many cases hope was not present. This initiative is supported by the Henry Ford Pathology Department, which has nationally recognized expertise in its integrated approach to disease-specific genomic testing.
How does precision medicine work?
Precision medicine targets cancer treatment based on a patient’s tumor profile. We identify a patient’s tumor profile with the help of genetic testing. You may need a biopsy (a test in which we take a small sample of a tumor for analysis) so we can identify your tumor profile.
Once we identify your tumor profile, we look for specific mutations that indicate whether the cancer will respond well to a particular treatment. This lets our medical oncology team recommend treatments that are more likely to work -- and avoid treatments that are less likely to work.
Can precision medicine help me?
Henry Ford is working to implement “molecular tumor boards” across multiple subspecialties. Molecular tumor boards will bring together physicians and researchers from multiple disease sites to harness the power of new molecular genetic information retrieved from an individual patient’s tumor. The team will be able to review the case and offer precision medicine in the form of targeted treatment recommendations and expanded access to clinical trials. We currently examine tumor profiles for patients with all kinds of cancer, including:
- Brain cancer
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
- Prostate cancer
- Rectal cancer
- Some forms of leukemia
We also may evaluate tumor profiles for patients with other forms of cancer if they don’t respond well to traditional treatments. And we continue to expand our use of precision medicine to improve cancer care for as many patients as possible.