In contrast to genetics, which focuses on specific gene mutations and inheritance of gene mutations, the goal of genomics is to understand how genes behave and influence their environment. Although the field is relatively young, genome-based medicine, frequently called personalized medicine, is the future of healthcare—where more can be known about human genetics, disease and wellness than ever before.
Personalized medicine promises to make treatment as individualized as the disease itself. It involves translating genetic, genomic and clinical information into targeted therapies and precise diagnostic tests. Advances are also opening the door to far more accurate predictive tests for cancers that allow doctors to better treat and prepare patients for the trajectory of their disease.
Genomic testing can:
- Improve the accuracy of diagnosing a particular disease;
- Improve the accuracy of prognosticating a disease (how likely a tumor is to metastasize);
- Identify which patients may respond better to a specific therapy (typically called a targeted therapy).
For cutaneous melanoma, or skin cancer, there is a genomic test (also called a gene test) called DecisionDx™-Melanoma that identifies the gene expression profile (GEP), or signature, of a tumor to predict whether a patient is at low or high risk of metastasis, regardless of stage. This, in turn, can help a patient and their healthcare team make more informed choices about treatment and follow-up care.