NPR

For Now, Sequencing Cancer Tumors Holds More Promise Than Proof

Sequencing the DNA of cancer tumors to help pinpoint treatment is an emerging element of precision medicine. While patients and doctors alike want these tests, they often don't benefit patients.
Ben and Tara Stern relax at home in Essex, Md. Ben was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016. After conventional treatment failed to stop the tumor, Ben tried an experimental drug. Source: Meredith Rizzo/NPR

People diagnosed with cancer understandably reach for the very best that medical science has to offer. That motivation is increasingly driving people to ask to have the DNA of their tumors sequenced. And while that's useful for some malignancies, the hype of precision medicine for cancer is getting far ahead of the facts.

It's easy to understand why that's the case. When you hear stories about the use of DNA sequencing to create individualized cancer treatment, chances are they are uplifting stories. Like that of Ben Stern.

In the spring of 2016, Stern was diagnosed with a deadly brain cancer, . His doctors at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center

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