Another good overview piece by Leonard Lichtenfeld of the American Cancer Society, about just how complex the diagnostic process is, and how new technologies and approaches make it more so. Genomics will make it more so.
He asks some good questions:
- How are we going to enter this “gee-whiz” world where we would like to have enough cancer tissue to analyze when our biopsies are more and more often done with small needles that give us small samples of that tissue?
- And what about the recent research that has shown us that even within one person’s primary cancer there can be many different genetic “signatures” which may point in different directions?
- And how will we be certain the information we get from all these possible analyses will really make a difference?
- Who is going to pay for all this?
… we cannot lose sight of the fact that the journey to the successful treatment of cancer starts right at the very beginning of that journey. Getting the diagnosis “right” at that beginning is in fact a key part of success. We are moving ever-more-closely to the day when we will be able to not only say it’s a “colon cancer” for example, but we will be able to pinpoint the actual specific changes that led to that cancer developing in the first place.
… this is truly amazing stuff. But I ask you think about one more question: We might have the technology, but will we also have the will and the way to embrace that technology and make it work for all of us?