You may have heard about precision oncology, a type of cancer treatment explicitly tailored to your tumor. Precision oncology can be very beneficial for older adults, who often face unique challenges in cancer treatment. Keep reading to learn more about how this cutting-edge treatment approach can help improve the quality of life for seniors with cancer.
What is Precision Oncology?
Precision oncology is a cancer treatment based on a specific assessment of the individual’s tumor. It typically includes genomic testing, which focuses on analyzing your genetic information. These tests allow doctors to determine how best to treat your cancer based on its unique features. The goal is to provide the most effective and least invasive treatment possible while minimizing the potential side effects.
It’s important to note that precision oncology is not a new approach to cancer treatment – it has been used for many years in specific cases. However, the recent advances in genomic testing have made it more widely available and accessible.
How Does Precision Oncology Benefit Older Adults vs. Other Cancer Treatment Options?
There are many reasons why precision oncology can be especially beneficial for older adults compared to other cancer treatment options.
First, this type of treatment is specifically tailored to the individual’s tumor. It can be more effective than traditional cancer treatments, which may not be as well-suited to older patients. It can also help minimize the potential side effects since doctors can specifically target cancer.
Precision oncology also tends to have lower toxicity levels than traditional treatments. This is important for older adults, who are more likely to experience adverse side effects from cancer treatment. Doctors can carefully select the most effective and most minor toxic therapies for each individual with precision oncology.
Ease of administration
Precision oncology can also be more accessible to administer than traditional treatments. This is particularly important for older adults, who may not tolerate more intensive treatment regimens. In addition, with precision oncology, doctors can often use a combination of oral and intravenous medications to target the tumor.
Precision oncology can also be less invasive than traditional treatments in many cases. This is great for older adults, who may not tolerate more invasive procedures. Precision oncology often relies on targeted medications and minimally invasive surgery, which can be less traumatic for the patient.
Improved quality of life
Also, precision oncology can often improve the overall quality of life, especially beneficial for older adults. This type of treatment can help to ease symptoms and reduce any pain associated with cancer, allowing the patient to experience a higher quality of life during and after treatment.
Finally, precision oncology can help to reduce stress for older adults. Cancer is a frightening diagnosis, and many seniors feel overwhelmed by the prospect of treatment. Precision oncology can provide a more individualized approach that helps to minimize some of the uncertainty associated with cancer treatment. While there can still be a lot of questions about cancer itself, you’ll have more information than with other types of treatment.
Things to Know About Precision Oncology Before Starting Treatment
There are several things to know about precision oncology before beginning the treatment process.
Not All Tumors are Genetically Testable
Not all tumors are genetically testable, so it’s essential to speak with your doctor to determine if this type of treatment is right for you. In some cases, cancer will even need to be tested before a specific treatment plan can be created. The doctor will discuss your options with you, and what course of treatment is most appropriate for you.
Only for Certain Types of Cancer
Precision oncology isn’t right for every type of cancer, so it’s essential to speak with your doctor about whether or not this is an option for you. In particular, it is most effective for certain types of cancers, such as breast and lung cancer. Keep in mind that some types of cancer, such as pancreatic or melanoma, are often treated with both traditional chemotherapy treatments along with precision oncology.
Evaluated by a Genetic Expert
Before starting this type of treatment, you will need to meet with a genetic expert to determine if precision oncology is right for you. This doctor will help determine the best course of action and plan out your specific treatment. It’s essential to be upfront about all pre-existing conditions and other information that may impact your treatment plan.
Not a Cure
Also, this type of treatment is not a cure. It’s never guaranteed that cancer will go away completely, so patients need to be aware that they may need additional therapy after completing precision oncology. However, it can often extend the patient’s life and increase overall survival rates.
Performed by a Multidisciplinary Team
In most cases, this type of cancer treatment is performed by a multidisciplinary team that includes medical oncologists, genetic counselors, and other healthcare specialists. It’s essential to have a team that you trust and feel comfortable with, as they will be responsible for guiding you through the treatment process.
A Personalized Treatment Plan
Precision oncology is a relatively new way of treating cancer, so each patient’s plan will differ. Doctors can choose from pre-existing treatment plans or create a personalized therapy that’s right for the patient’s unique needs. The goal is to focus on targeting specific genetic markers to help kill cancer cells while reducing the impact on healthy cells.
Also, it’s important to note that there may be additional costs associated with precision oncology treatment. Some insurance providers may not cover all the costs of this type of therapy. This is especially true if your insurer deems the treatment to be experimental. Talk with your doctor about what you can expect to pay out-of-pocket for this type of care before starting the process.
Precision oncology is a relatively new type of treatment, but it can provide an excellent alternative for seniors with cancer. If you have been diagnosed with cancer and your doctor recommends this form of therapy, be sure to ask all of the questions necessary to understand if it’s right for you.