Breast cancer is a disease of the genes. Through the sequencing of the human genome, we now have a much greater understanding of breast cancer at the genetic level.
This has led to the discovery that breast cancer is, in fact, not one disease but many. The term ‘personalised treatment’ is based on the idea that by understanding the genetic makeup of a person’s disease, treatments can be more accurately tailored to them. This approach is also referred to as ‘precision medicine’.
Each sub-type of breast cancer develops, progresses and responds to treatment very differently depending on its characteristics. A greater understanding of the complexity of breast cancer has led to a more tailored, personalised approach to treatment – where the genetic ‘signature’ of a particular person’s breast cancer will be used to determine the most effective, targeted treatment options.
As a result of breakthrough discoveries, we have seen the treatments for breast cancer evolve from a one-size-fits-all approach to a highly sophisticated personalised approach that aims to target the characteristics of each tumour and get the best outcome for each person with breast cancer.
Research into more personalised treatment will help to find new approaches to overcome resistance to existing cancer medicine, identifying gene signatures that can help optimise breast cancer treatment, and could determine which patients would benefit from radiotherapy and other therapies leading to fewer deaths and better quality of life for those who are diagnosed.
Molecular types of breast cancer
Not all breast cancer tumours are the same, in fact, there are quite a few subtypes of breast cancer and they are broadly broken into four groups based on their molecular signature, or lack thereof.
Research towards personalised treatment
The National Breast Cancer Foundation funds research into making treatments for breast cancer more effective through a personalised approach that looks at each tumour and each individual to determine which treatment path will help them survive and keep up their quality of life.