Precision medicine, which evaluates differences in patient’s genetic makeup, aids in the development of individualized treatments. Personalized medicine is rapidly evolving with the advancement of genetics and genomics. This is especially true of cancer treatments, which have seen a development from generalized traditional chemotherapy to targeted therapies. “The term targeted therapy [has] emerged,” said Cheryl Lynn, BSN, RN, HNB-BC. “This is so exciting because it is only recently that we have been able to so precisely treat our patients.”

Lynn offered insight into the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), where she serves as director, and it subcenters, the Centers for Advanced Individual Medicine, which CTCA opened in its five hospitals in May of 2014. These centers exist to educate and support patients, families, caregivers, and stakeholders engaged in genomic testing, either personally or peripherally. The centers boast their own dedicated hospital space, directed and managed by nurses. The coordination of care is a collaborative one. “We work very closely with our medical oncologists, oncology care teams, pathologists and laboratory technicians and finance departments,” she said. The centers help streamline the process for the patient regarding test orders, results reporting, medication acquisition, and tracking, follow-up and continuing education for caregivers, patients, and program development.

While Lynn is confident that the centers benefit patients, she stated that nurses could benefit from continued education in genetics and genomics. “As more and more continues to be learned about the presence and implications of genetic abnormalities associated with cancer, nurses must be knowledgeable and competent in their understanding, synthesis, and application of these advances in science,” she said.“[And] we believe having a dedicated center allows us to provide the best care to our patients leading to better patient outcomes.”