Cancer—a disease of genomic abnormalities—often results from DNA misinformation.Whether inherited or acquired through lifestyle and environmental factors, mutations in an individual’s genetic coding can adversely alter the behavior of cells—from promoting cancer cell growth to suppressing normal defenses against tumor cell death. Understanding a cancer patient’s genetics as well as the unique genomic signatures of his or her specific disease will go a long way in preventing and treating this second most common cause of death in the United States.

Our Program for Personalized Cancer Care (PPCC) focuses on translating genomic discoveries into highly effective tailored cancer care. From screening to treatment, the PPCC takes a comprehensive approach not found in most health systems. Developing new therapies to provide the best care to patients with advanced disease remains a priority. However, our program also strives to leverage genetic information to improve the accuracy of determining an individual’s risk for developing disease and to better personalize therapies to a patient’s specific condition. Analyzing the genetic makeup of individuals with and without cancer can save lives by greatly improving early prevention and diagnosis.

Our internationally-recognized research team is already pioneering the development of next-generation genomic screening tools for prostate cancer that could individualize PSA screening and reduce the number of prostatic biopsies. In the near future, patients will only need to provide a small sample of blood or saliva to learn of their risk factors for prostate cancer development and/or biopredictors for their prognosis to help customize treatment. These innovative assays will soon become available at NorthShore.

The PPCC brings together cancer genomicists, biologists, pathologists, biomedical engineers and biostatisticians—all working on a number of exciting personalized cancer care initiatives. Our investigators are:

  • Developing sophisticated bioinformatics and computational medicine tools for processing and interpreting “big-data” cancer genomics in our own community as well as through consortia like The Cancer Genome Atlas, an NIH research program
  • Working to create and optimize genomic tests for cancer risk assessment and treatment planning via our state-of-the-art genotyping laboratory
  • Studying the biology of cancer progression with the aim of developing lower-impact medical approaches and non-surgical treatment options

NorthShore has a rare combination of strengths, including our large and loyal patient population, comprehensive electronic medical record system, well-established molecular pathology laboratory and extensive biobank of cancer tissue samples. The PPCC takes full advantage of these strengths to accelerate our cancer research efforts, improve patient care, add to our growing knowledge of cancer genomics and, ultimately, enhance the health and well-being of our patients, their families and our community at large.

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