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Personalizing Cancer Care

/ Breast Cancer Awareness

Kirsten Edmiston, M.D., is a breast surgical oncologist atInova Schar Cancer Institute.

 

You may already know about genetic testing for ancestry and inherited diseases, but an advancement in genetic testing goes one step further, giving usable information about which medication options are best for you.

 

A Targeted Approach

At Inova Schar Cancer Institute, patients who undergo mastectomy or chemotherapy are eligible for a genetic testing pilot called MediMap. The test analyzes 25 different genes to gain insight about how your body processes up to 145 different medications across 14 categories, including:

  • Anti-nausea
  • Anesthesia
  • Pain control
  • Antidepressants
  • Anti-estrogen

 

So, one painless, comprehensive test can help doctors pinpoint which drugs will work best for you and what dose will do the job. Take pain medication, for example. Doctors often prescribe drugs that contain codeine, which the body breaks down into morphine. Some people lack the enzyme required to break down codeine, so no matter how much codeine they take, their body won’t metabolize it and they still suffer from pain. Other people are ultra-rapid metabolizers, meaning their bodies are very effective at breaking down codeine into morphine. If your genetics fall into that category, just a tiny amount of codeine treats your pain.

 

The popular breast cancer drug tamoxifen is another example. If your body can’t convert tamoxifen into a usable form, you may be at an increased risk for a recurrence. You may need a higher dose or an alternative medication.

 

With MediMap testing, your doctors have this information at their fingertips within 7 to 10 days. This means that when our patients are ready to go into surgery, we have much more information about what will be most effective. This is the key to precision medicine.

 

Personalizing Care

The information contained within a simple MediMap test helps doctors select the right medicine and helps reduce some of the negative side effects of medications prescribed for breast cancer.

 

With MediMap, you not only get immediate benefits in terms of how your physician will help you navigate breast cancer treatment, but you also get valuable information about how you process many other medications. That’s information you can use for years down the line.

 

No matter which condition you’re facing, MediMap testing may help if:

  • Current medications are not working
  • You’re experiencing negative side effects
  • You’re diagnosed with a new condition that can be treated with one of the 145+ medications included in the test
  • You’re thinking about changing medications

 

Our goal is to make MediMap testing available for all of our patients at Inova Schar Cancer Institute.

 

Discover how Inova Schar Cancer Institute tackles breast cancer. Inova is the official Breast Cancer Awareness partner of the Washington Redskins.

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