Precision medicine means that doctors will use patients’ medical histories, genetic information and relevant research to create a treatment plan designed for them. It will give doctors the tools they need to best care for and treat their patients, says Mylynda B. Massart, MD, PhD, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Pittsburgh.
Precision medicine involves getting as much data as possible, from as diverse a patient population as possible. It allows doctors to put research in context with a patient’s personal information and create a treatment specific to that person. Health care providers like Dr. Massart consider this a step forward in the practice of medicine.
Precision medicine also has the potential to positively affect the use of medications. Research is revealing more about how people’s genetic makeup affects their response to certain medications (the field of pharmacogenomics).
Dr. Massart says, “We’re using genetic information to know patients’ risk for having certain diseases and how to treat them (like testing a patient for a BRCA gene mutation, which can indicate a higher risk for cancer, if that patient has a consistent family history of breast or ovarian cancers). We don’t have global genomic information being integrated into many health systems yet, but some are starting that process.”
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