Within the field of genetics, the terms ‘precision’, ‘stratified’ or ‘genomic’ medicine may be used interchangeably. Essentially these terms mean we are starting to be able to personalise a patient’s treatment based on their own individual genetic information. In recent years there has been international recognition that these technologies have the potential to revolutionise medicine and public health. As our understanding of our genetic information improves, our ability to tailor treatment options to a particular individual will also get better.
To give you a couple of examples, your genetic information might be used to:
Select specific treatment or health monitoring for a medical condition.
In certain cancers, genetic variations found within the tumour help healthcare professionals decide which drugs will be best to treat that particular cancer. Also, for patients with specific inherited conditions, health screening might be adapted specifically for the genetic change found in the family.
Understand if a patient is at risk of side effects from a drug or treatment.
Some patients with particular genetic variants are more likely to have side effects from certain medicines used for their treatment. In some cases the side effects can be very serious. By testing for these variants prior to treatment, those at high risk of these side effects might benefit from a lower dose of the drug or even a different type of medicine. This type of genetic testing can therefore improve patient safety.