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Genomic medicine is the future for all cancer treatment, but will have its greatest impact for ‘rare’, high-mortality cancers. For more information, visit our patient information page.
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What is the genomic cancer medicine program?

The Genomic Cancer Medicine Program is dedicated to using genomics to improve the understanding, early detection, prevention and management of cancer. The program focuses on less common, high-mortality cancers, including ovarian, and pancreatic cancer, sarcomas and cancer metastasis.

Key statistics

  • Heredity
    Cancer can be caused by inherited genetic changes, or changes acquired over our lifetime. Having more inherited variants can result in earlier onset of cancer
  • $4.5 billion
    Cancer costs more than $4.5 billion in direct health system costs.
  • > 130,000
    Over 130,000 Australians are diagnosed with cancer every year. About 52,000 will be diagnosed with a rare or less common cancer.
  • 40%
    There are nearly 186 types of rare and less common cancers, which account for nearly 40% of cancer deaths.
  • A C G T
    DNA is a molecule that is made up of four basic building blocks represented by the letters A, C, G, and T. Sections of DNA letters ‘read’ together, make up genes.

What is genomic cancer medicine?

Genomic medicine is patient diagnosis and treatment based on information about a person’s entire DNA sequence. Variants in the DNA sequence determine the differences between us as individuals, and differences between types of cells (eg tumour cells and non-tumour cells).

Genomic cancer medicine involves using the latest genome sequencing approaches to look at the genetics of the cancer, rather than treating it based on where it is growing in the body (e.g. breast, colon, skin).

This allows us to understand inherited cancer risk and find more effective treatments for people with cancer.

What is genomic research?

Genomic research has given us a new understanding of the interplay within the genes in our whole genetic landscape – and the relationship of our genome to how we live our lives. While genetics focuses on specific genes, genomic research uses genome sequencing to study genes and other information encoded in an individual’s genome. It looks at the structure of the whole genome, including the DNA sequence.

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