Cancers are named for the tissue they originate from not the mutations which are causing and affecting the behaviour of the malignancies. That may be about to change. Cancers may soon be identified by a vocabulary which identifies the mutated gene causing the cell to become cancerous. An example, the mutation ‘BRAF V600E’ indicates a substitution of an amino acid (Valine to Glutamic Acid) at position 600 in the BRAF gene. Interestingly, BRAF V600E is found in not just one type of cancer but in a subset of lung, ovarian, colorectal and thyroid cancer1. Identifying the altered amino acids in tumors would help identify drugs targeting specific mutations raising the tantalizing possibility that different cancers could be treated with the same drug. A personalized cancer medicine support tool, My Cancer Genome (MCG)1 that could help doctors and patients, was launched by Dr. William Pao and Dr. Mia Levy of Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center in 2011. MCG provides up-to-date information on cancer mutations and targeted drug therapies, that may (or may not) be of benefit, in nineteen cancer types. The information is contributed by physician–scientists around the world with patients and caregivers also providing feedback on the website. MCG also includes a database of patient-level information on mutations, treatment regimens, and response to treatment in lung cancer. The typical user of My Cancer Genome would be a busy oncologist. “Staying abreast of these fast-paced research changes may be difficult for time-pressed oncologists and medical caregivers. In particular, knowledge about rare variants found in cancers may be hard to track down, especially in busy clinics. We launched this web-based tool to enable a genetically informed approach to cancer medicine that we believe can be more efficient and effective.” said Dr Pao2. To effectively utilize a personalized cancer medicine tool, molecular testing of the tumor tissue to identify mutations associated with the disease has to be performed. In the past such tests were mainly conducted at large university cancer centers. Now several diagnostic companies offer targeted mutation testing and analyses of the results. Dr. Leora Horn, a Vanderbilt oncologist uses MCG to make informed decisions for lung cancer patients with rare mutations. She checks out the database to understand whether patients with similar mutations respond better to traditional chemotherapy or targeted therapies before recommending treatment3. Interestingly, patients and caregivers are beginning to take a hands-on approach regarding their cancer treatment. With their tumor-mutation test results, patients and caregivers access MCG to get a better understanding of the cancer, searching for information on genes being evaluated in therapeutic clinical trials, making use of the information gleaned from MCG to discuss drugs or eligibility for clinical trials with their physicians. There remain many unanswered questions in the field of cancer genetics. However, knowing what is inside a malignant tumor cell causing it to proliferate unchecked and matching up that knowledge with specific drugs that can target the abnormality is hopefully the model that will be adopted in the future with cancer therapy tailored according to the genetic makeup of individual tumors and medical decisions being customized and tailored to the individual patients need. Keywords: Cancer Genetics, Mutations, Web-based Cancer Tool, Personalized Medical Decisions Reference:

    2. Pankaskie, MC (2011, August 21) My Cancer Genome. The Drug Information Forum
    3. Breese, T (2013, March 13) Health Data Stories: My Cancer Genome. Health Data Consortium
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