Pathology Expert Shares Personalized Medicine Tool

Jul. 31, 2014
UR Pathology Professor David G. Hicks, M.D., a national leader in using molecular technology to diagnose breast cancer, helped to design a new tool to assist other U.S. pathologists in how to personalize treatment for patients with invasive disease.

The tool, known as a Short Presentation in Emerging Concepts (SPECs), focuses on the molecular test for HER2, a gene that’s sometime amplified in breast cancer. Improving the accuracy of HER2 testing has been an important mission of Hicks, director of Surgical Pathology at UR and the Wilmot Cancer Institute, because women can substantially benefit from treatments that target the HER2 gene.

Hicks has been involved in research and analysis of breast cancer biomarkers for several years, through the College of American Pathologists (CAPS) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), two of the world’s largest organizations devoted to improving cancer care. By understanding the nuances of tumor biology, pathologists help oncologists and patients decide on therapy that matches correctly with the patient’s unique disease characteristics.

The SPEC tool complements breast cancer guidelines that were published in 2007 and updated in 2013. “The more resources we can provide to assist pathologists in understanding the rapid changes in molecular medicine,” Hicks said, “the better they will be equipped to serve both physicians and patients.”