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Personalised medicine is widely considered as the way of the future for medicine. However, progress in cancer, with a few outstanding exceptions, has fallen below expectations because of the challenges of tumour heterogeneity and clonal evolution. In both benign and malignant disease, diseases caused by single genetic alterations are more amenable to precision medicine approaches. However, most common diseases are caused by a complex interplay of multiple genetic and environmental factors making personalised medicine far more challenging. The current optimism for personalised medicine is distorting clinical consultations, resource allocation and research funding prioritisation. A research active clinician must act both as an agent of change and development, and as a communicator of realism. Thus personalised medicine that includes a sober appreciation of what genomics can achieve, together with continued focus on the individual as a person not just as a genome, will contribute to further improvements in health and healthcare.

Original publication




Journal article


New Bioeth

Publication Date





13 - 20


cancer, hype, personalised medicine, precision medicine, promise, stratified medicine, Delivery of Health Care, Genomics, Humans, Neoplasms, Precision Medicine, Resource Allocation