Precision medicine

This page was reviewed under our medical and editorial policy by

Maurie Markman, MD, President, Medicine & Science

This page was updated on April 29, 2022.

What is precision medicine?

Understanding precision cancer care and the options available often requires navigating new and complex health information. The precision medicine experts, genetic counselors and supportive care clinicians at City of Hope help to explain what you can expect from a genetics or genomic test, how that information may be used in developing a treatment or prevention plan and whether a clinical trial may be a viable option. Also, as part of our comprehensive approach to cancer treatment, we have a panel of experts, called a molecular tumor board, who meet regularly to share information and ideas on how to treat each patient's disease. These experts collaborate on a treatment plan personalized to fit the patient’s needs, monitoring the patient’s progress throughout treatment and making adjustments when necessary.

Because precision medicine is a rapidly developing area of medical science, advanced genomic tests and innovative treatments, such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy should be considered after thorough discussions between the physician and patient and based on each patient’s unique situation.

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is now City of Hope®, joining forces to expand patient access to personalized, comprehensive cancer care.

Our services

Advanced genomic testing

At City of Hope, we use the tools of precision medicine to identify what makes a particular cancer behave the way it does. For some patients, that may include observing the entire human genome, which may uncover mutations that can be matched with targeted treatment options.

Advancements happen quickly in the field of genetics and genomics. In 2018, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) launched the All of Us Research Program, a public health initiative that aims to sequence one million genomes across the United States within ten years. The information they gather could change the way we fight common cancers, like lung cancer and breast cancer.

As precision medicine research continues to rapidly evolve, our oncology team is prepared to make a cancer care plan tailored to an individual's genetic makeup, using the advances in pharmacogenomics, big data analytics, artificial intelligence and biomarker testing (also called tumor profiling or next generation sequencing). The experts at our cancer centers also consider genetic information about the type of cancer you have, such as the mutator phenotype, when developing a medical treatment plan.

Learn more about advanced genomic testing.

Genetic testing

According to the National Cancer Institute, "Harmful variants in some genes are known to be associated with an increased risk of developing cancer. These inherited variants are thought to contribute to about 5 to 10 percent of all cancers."

A genetic test may help determine if a patient was born with a higher risk of developing cancer due to a particular inherited gene mutation or series of gene mutations. Being diagnosed with a hereditary condition may empower patients to make more informed decisions about how to manage their cancer risks.

Learn more about genetic testing.

Genetic counseling

If you know or suspect you have a genetic mutation that may increase your cancer risk, due to a family history of a particular disease, like leukemia, melanoma, colorectal cancer or ovarian cancer, you may consider genetic counseling. Our genetic counselors help educate patients about strategies to help reduce cancer risk and/or increase the chances of catching cancer in its early stages.

Learn more about genetic counseling.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapy drugs may be recommended to treat certain cancers based on the results of an advanced genomic test. These drugs are designed to seek out features unique to cancer cells and target specific proteins or mutations that may be driving the cancer's growth.

Learn more about targeted therapy.


Researchers have developed a series of immunotherapy drugs called checkpoint inhibitors designed to energize the body's immune system to better recognize and attack cancer cells. These drugs are designed to expose cancer cells as invaders, triggering an immune response.

Learn more about immunotherapy.

Clinical trials

City of Hope is committed to bringing our patients innovative cancer treatment options. Our clinical trials explore treatment options that may lead to tomorrow’s medicine and offer patients treatments that may not otherwise be available to them. These studies are an essential testing ground for measuring the safety, effectiveness and potential side effects of drugs and other treatments before they can be granted government approval.

One of these clinical trials is the Targeted Agent and Profiling Utilization Registry (TAPUR) study. Led by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and offered at City of Hope Atlanta, Chicago and Phoenix, the study aims to improve our understanding of how commercially available anti-cancer drugs perform on a broader range of cancers, by matching the drugs to tumors with specific genomic mutations that the drugs are designed to target. This study, like other clinical trials, is not available to or appropriate for all patients. Your care team will work with you to determine whether you are a candidate for TAPUR or one of our other ongoing clinical trials.

Learn more about clinical trials.

Supportive care services

Patient care is not one-size-fits all. In addition to personalized medicine, we offer a variety of evidence-informed supportive care therapies, such as nutritional support and behavioral health, to help patients maintain the strength to get through treatment. We also offer counseling, spiritual support and other services to help patients cope with anxiety and stress.

Learn more about supportive care services.

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