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What is Personalized Medicine?

Dr. Elizabeth Bowhay-Carnes defines the often-misunderstood term “personalized medicine” as it relates to your genetic testing results and treatment decisions.

Dr. Elizabeth Bowhay–Carnes is Director of the Adult Non-Malignant Hematology Program and Co-Director of the Adolescent/Young Adult Oncology Program at Mays Cancer Center, home to UT Health San Antonio MD Anderson Cancer Center.

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Dr. Elizabeth Bowhay-Carnes:

When doctors or people within the medical community use a term called personalized medicine, specifically we’re talking about some advanced testing that can be done on a patient’s DNA. Usually, this is talking about a specialized test that is called next-generation sequencing, and that particular test, next generation sequencing, is a technology that allows us to look deeper into a particular patient’s DNA or problems within the DNA of the cancer cell.

We then try to pick treatment options that match that patient’s particular problems with the DNA of their cancer cell. So, you will sometimes hear this particular technology referred to as personalized medicine, and usually we’re talking about next generation sequencing.