The term “precision oncology” can be confusing. Because many newer targeted therapies are designed to act on specific genetic mutations or protein-related mechanisms, doctors often order genetic sequencing to help inform treatment decisions. But genetic testing is just a start.
There is growing interest in the power of bioinformatics, or in silico testing. This involves applying a patient’s genetic information to large datasets and complex mathematical modeling to identify potential drugs that may be effective on a patient’s cancer. This, too, can be informative.
But at the end of the day, genetics can provide only directional information about which drugs to try. In vivo testing results show which drugs are–or are not–effective in a living replicate of the patient’s cancer.