Can our genome provide us with a risk prediction for cancer?
Sometimes it can only mutate DNA in some healthy cells, why does it happen and how does this trigger the development of a tumor? We can read DNA information, i.e. perform genetic tests: when and why? How does the therapy of a tumor change when we know its genetic and molecular characteristics?
These are just some of the issues at the center of the talk show scheduled for Friday 25 September, from 7.30 pm, live on the web from the Teatro Regio in Turin, as part of SaluTO – Medicine and Wellness. To explain the present and the future of the discipline are Antonio Amoroso, Full Professor of Medical Genetics, University of Turin and Silvia Novello, Full Professor of Medical Oncology, San Luigi Gonzaga Orbassano University Hospital, University of Turin.
The secrets hidden in the genes
Today, thanks to genetic tests, specific tests can be performed that can identify the presence of one or more mutations that cause cancer. But these are not examinations to be done under the radar: the data must be managed, because DNA matters but the environment and habits of life are very important. An example? Think of the so-called "Jolie" mutation from the name of the actress who made the possible genetic impact on breast and ovarian cancer so widespread with her testimony. Technically, these are mutations affecting the BRCA1 gene, which together with BRCA2, determines a much increased risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
According to Amoroso "If it is true that the presence of this genetic makeup indicates a greater risk of developing cancer in the carrier, as is the case for the RET gene for thyroid cancer, or for the APC gene for a type of cancer of the colon, it is equally undeniable that information must be "managed" and above all, a specific monitoring and treatment path must be planned for each individual. In short, in the presence of genes that can influence the risk profile of developing a disease, it is essential to study the DNA of the right people and, together with the specialist, to "make the best use of the information".
Knowing the cancer cells is crucial
There is a lot of talk about “tailor-made” treatments, perfectly adapted to the tumor. It is the new way to tackle these pathologies, which allows not only to identify cellular characteristics but also to make the best use of targeted drugs, allowing their use in cases where they are actually needed and thus improving the appropriateness of treatments. Knowing the "intimate" characteristics of cancer cells can help.
"In theory it changes radically: I say" theoretically "because not always having a molecular alteration means being able to benefit from it from a therapeutic point of view and not always knowing a molecular alteration in the laboratory means knowing how to identify it in the patient in clinical practice – he remembers the Novello. In order to meet the criteria of the much-discussed Precision Medicine, three fundamental components are needed: molecular alteration, the test to be able to identify it in patients in a certain and reproducible way, the drug with molecular target.
With these three variables together, the circle is closed and targeted therapy is offered to those who need it “.
Thus genetics help us in the fight against cancer
Live web – Friday 25 September – 7.30 pm