Precision oncology: Neither a silver bullet nor a dream

Nora S. Sánchez, Gordon B. Mills, Kenna R.Mills Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Precision oncology is not an illusion, nor is it the magic bullet that will eradicate all cancers. Precision oncology is simply another weapon in our growing armament against cancer. Rather than honing in on the failures of a relatively young field, one should advocate for integrating its successes into widespread clinical practice, especially for indications, such as: ABL, ALK, BRAF, BRCA1, BRCA2, EGFR, KIT, KRAS, PDGFRA, PDGFRB, ROS1, BCR-ABL, FLT3 and ROS1, where aberrations have been shown to alter responses to US FDA approved drugs-that is, level 1 data. Moreover, to truly assess the promise of precision oncology, we must first begin by defining our expectations for this field. Importantly, we must recognize that the conception of precision oncology arose as an antithesis of the 'one-size fits all' cancer therapeutics approach. Consequently, tools used for evaluating these conventional, large-scale trials, are not directly transferable for assessing nonconventional, smaller-scale trials needed for evaluating precision oncology. Hence, a thorough vetting of precision oncology as another tool of the trade, must first begin by reassessing our expectations for this field, as well as current clinical trial designs and end point measurements. Importantly, we must recognize that most targeted therapy approaches are in their infancy, with only monotherapy approaches being assessed and combination therapies likely being necessary to fulfill the promise of precision oncology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1525-1539
Number of pages15
Issue number16
StatePublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • personalized cancer therapy
  • precision oncology
  • targeted therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Pharmacology


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