Frequently Asked Questions about Precision Oncology
What is precision
Precision medicine is a personalized approach to treating
cancer based on a patient’s individual genetic makeup. While traditional methods
treat cancer by disease type, precision medicine looks at specific
cancer-associated genes in cells and then targets the “Achilles Heel” of the
tumor, or the genetic drivers that cause cancer.
Therapies are matched to pinpoint and destroy specific
genetic abnormalities and mutations in a patient’s tumor, while sparing normal
cells. Genomic sequencing, a process used to determine the genetic makeup of a
patient’s cancer, may reveal that medications not conventionally used for
cancer can effectively treat your cancer.
Am I a candidate for precision
Our personalized oncology team will determine if precision
medicine may be an option by reviewing your medical history, imaging scans, lab
tests and treatment history. Genomic sequencing is most often recommended for adult and pediatric patients who:
Have active cancer that has failed standard
- Have a high risk of relapse or progression
- Spend 50 percent or more of the day mobile and
out of bed
What cancers can be
treated with precision medicine?
We offer genomic sequencing for most liquid and solid cancers
that have not responded to treatment. Some examples include:
- Abdominal cancers like pancreatic, appendiceal and stomach cancer
- Esophageal cancer
- Head and Neck Cancer
- Lung cancer not successfully resected by surgery
- Metastatic breast cancer
- Metastatic colon cancer
- Metastatic prostate cancer
- Ovarian cancer
We do not treat cancers that are responding to the current
What can I expect
during the genomic sequencing process?
Genomic sequencing is used to determine the genetic makeup
of a patient’s cancer. During this process, a sample of the tumor’s DNA is sequenced
and compared to the human genome to look for genetic abnormalities or
alterations in the tumor. Learn more about this process.
When will I get my sequencing
Typically, you will receive your sequencing results and a
treatment plan within a month after your tissue biopsy is taken.
What are possible
Our physicians will work closely with each patient to
identify a customized treatment plan. Depending on your test results, you may:
- Take new cancer-fighting therapies
- Take a drug not traditionally used to treat
cancer that has been repurposed, or used in a different way, to target your tumor
- Or, you may enroll in a clinical
trial for a novel therapy that is being studied
While many patients will receive a suggested treatment plan,
there may not be a therapy that is an appropriate match for some patients,
depending on their genetic makeup.
What is the cost of
Over the past few years, the cost of genomic sequencing has significantly decreased, making it a more affordable option for patients. While several insurance companies reimburse for genomic sequencing, reimbursement cannot be guaranteed.
For example, Medicare, Medicaid and several other insurers approve on a case-by-case basis. Medcost insurance covers 100 percent of the cost of sequencing and covers additional charges based on the patient’s co-pay.
Patients should ask their insurance company and be prepared to pay the costs, if necessary. We are happy to discuss payment specifics with you.
sequencing show if I have a hereditary risk for cancer?
In some instances, precision medicine may unveil unsuspected
hereditary risk for cancer. Such findings may help identify the occurrence of
other cancers and help prevent cancer in your blood relatives.
medicine cure my cancer?
Precision medicine is an effective alternative to standard chemotherapy
for many patients, but it is not necessarily a cure. Our goal is to select the
most appropriate therapy for your individual cancer so that you can enjoy improved
health and a longer, better life.
Why should I choose the
Comprehensive Cancer Center?
The Comprehensive Cancer Center at Wake Forest Baptist is a
proven leader in cancer treatment and research. We are one of only 45 cancer
centers in the nation designated as “comprehensive” by the National Cancer
Institute – an accolade that translates into our patients having access to the
latest technologies, cancer treatments and research available. In addition:
We are dedicated to finding new treatment
methods that will improve cancer care for our patients, with a diverse
portfolio of clinical trials exploring novel therapeutic approaches like
precision medicine and gene therapy.
We have access to the latest advances in
genomics research and precision oncology through Wake Forest Baptist’s Center
for Genomics and Personalized Medicine Research.
Our physicians and surgeons,
consistently voted among the Best Doctors in America, have advanced expertise
in oncology, precision medicine and genomics and are knowledgeable about all
types of cancer. They work in multidisciplinary teams with other experts across
the Medical Center and specialize in treating patients with compassionate,
patient- and family-centered care.
All of our cancer care services are conveniently
housed in one location for patients. We have a state-of-the-art facility with
the latest technologies and resources available. We are committed to providing
the best care for you.
Learn more about our accreditations and the Comprehensive