The days when generalized regimens of chemotherapy and radiation are recommended to cancer patients may soon be a thing of the past...
New cancer research is centered on which sub-groups of patients are achieving the greatest benefits to a particular treatment. The gold standard of top-quality care in cancer medicine is the delivery of the most precise drug for that particular individual at the right time.
In this 'precision oncology era', clinicians and scientists are combining information from a patient's history, tumor testing specifics and imaging information to define the genetic and molecular features that can assign a fingerprint of an individual patient’s cancer. This type of personalized tumor characterization can then more effectively and safely help to inform and improve cancer diagnosis and management.
Such computational methods are also being applied to patient’s blood samples to analyze features of circulating free tumor cell DNA, if present… although this testing is still in preliminary stages, these methods have been able to detect early-stage cancers before they are symptomatic or visualized.
For more details, see what researchers in Southern California are publishing on the clinical applications of circulating tumor DNA: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6136923/