Increasing understanding of molecular carcinogenesis has begun to change paradigms in oncology. On the diagnostic side, the characterization of key mutations and molecular pathways responsible for tumor development and progression has led to the identification of a large number of potential targets for diagnostic and therapeutic intervention. On the treatment and prevention side, molecular analysis will be of even greater importance for guiding individualized therapy. Diagnostics of molecular lesions present in each tumor will become a key feature of future clinical care. This will allow prediction of response with substantially increased accuracy, stratification of particular patient groups, and eventually personalization of therapy. Striking examples of molecular targeted therapies that have already been established in clinical practice include tyrosine kinase inhibitors in chronic myelogenous leukemia and gastrointestinal stromal tumors, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) inhibition in EGFR-mutated lung cancer, HER2/neu blockade in HER2/neu-positive breast cancer, and anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) inhibitors in lung cancer with EML4-ALK fusion. The scientific development along this line will change the approach to tumor diseases in the future. Patients will be treated according to the specific molecular profiles found in the individual tumor tissue and preferentially with targeted substances, if available.

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