Cancer impacts each patient and family differently. Our current understanding of the disease is primarily limited to clinical hallmarks of cancer, but many specific molecular mechanisms remain elusive. Genetic markers can be used to determine predisposition to tumor development, but molecularly targeted treatment strategies that improve patient prognosis are not widely available for most cancers. Individualized care plans, also described as personalized medicine, still must be developed by understanding and implementing basic science research into clinical treatment. Proteomics holds great promise in contributing to the prevention and cure of cancer because it provides unique tools for discovery of biomarkers and therapeutic targets. As such, proteomics can help translate basic science discoveries into the clinical practice of personalized medicine. Here we describe how biological mass spectrometry and proteome analysis interact with other major patient care and research initiatives and present vignettes illustrating efforts in discovery of diagnostic biomarkers for ovarian cancer, development of treatment strategies in lung cancer, and monitoring prognosis and relapse in multiple myeloma patients.
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