Having anything personalized to yourself makes for a better experience. This is especially true for health care. Precision medicine takes that exact approach.
Precision medicine is a recent approach to treatment and prevention that takes into account each individual’s differences in genes, environment, and lifestyle. All this information gives doctors and researchers the opportunities to decide on a more effective course of treatment for a particular disease. This is quite different from the classic “one-size-fits-all” approach to health care. Though this term has not been around for too long, the overarching concept has. For example, a blood transfusion is not just given from a random donor. There needs to be a search for a blood type match. That is precision medicine in action in day-to-day healthcare.
This used to be known as “personalized medicine,” but that term was abandoned because it can lead people to believe that special medications and procedures are developed for a single person, which is not the case. Instead, precision medicine refers to classifying patients dependent on their susceptibility to a particular disease or their reactions to specific treatments.
This approach has been the most effective in the treatment of cancer. Genetic testing has been a way to find out who is most likely to get a certain type of cancer. Knowing that information allows for a more proactive approach to lower the chances of developing that cancer. Similarly, a tumor can be studied to discover how your particular cancer should be treated depending on your genetics. Precision medicine 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
Due to it being such an effective approach to health care, in 2015, President Obama launched the $200 million Precision Medicine Initiative. The initiative functioned with two primary goals in mind. The first was to “jumpstart advanced research into personalized treatments, 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”. To make medicine more effective for the individual, various medical professionals and researchers have joined together to gather all the necessary research.
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