The NorthShore Program for Personalized Cancer Care (PPCC) represents a major shift for advancing cancer care. At most other medical institutions, genomic-based cancer care focuses on late-stage disease and the analysis of the genetic changes in the DNA of an individual patient’s cancer tissue (so-called somatic DNA) to determine the most effective chemotherapy. While analysis of tumor (somatic) DNA is an essential component of the clinical services of NorthShore’s Kellogg Cancer Center, PPCC investigators are concurrently pioneering a new cancer care strategy.

In addition to somatic DNA alterations, the PPCC uniquely focuses on the genetic pattern of an individual’s hereditary (or genomic) DNA to derive a personalized cancer risk assessment profile. Because hereditary (genomic) DNA does not change over an individual’s lifetime, analysis of genomic DNA needs to be done only once and can be performed for $200-$300 on a single blood or saliva sample.

Based on the inherited (genomic) risk of developing a given cancer, we are beginning to implement personalized cancer care strategies that encompass the entire spectrum of disease. We believe that this approach will lead to more efficient use of health care resources by targeting our prevention and screening strategies toward individuals at greater risk of developing cancer (while sparing those at lesser risk with unnecessary testing), earlier cancer detection, and, ultimately and most importantly, reduced cancer deaths and suffering.

We have recently launched clinical trials for personalized cancer care in prostate cancer, as well as in breast and colorectal cancer. Additionally, we have begun to commercialize our proprietary genomic tests, with the goal of making these tests widely available to the public.

PPCC investigators are involved in a number of ongoing initiatives, including:

  • Developing personalized mammography screening guidelines via genetic risk assessment
  • Distinguishing indolent from aggressive prostate cancer by analyzing genomic DNA
  • Creating big data tools such as novel software and computation models to facilitate precision medicine
  • Improving survival for head neck cancers by interrogating The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA)