Traditionally, new scientific advances have been applied quickly to the leukemias based on the ease with which relatively pure samples of malignant cells can be obtained. Currently, our arsenal of approaches used to characterize an individual's acute myeloid leukemia (AML) combines hematopathologic evaluation, flow cytometry, cytogenetic analysis, and molecular studies focused on a few key genes. The advent of high-throughput methods capable of full-genome evaluation presents new options for a revolutionary change in the way we diagnose, characterize, and treat AML. Next-generation DNA sequencing techniques allow full sequencing of a cancer genome or transcriptome, with the hope that this will be affordable for routine clinical care within the decade. Microarray-based testing will define gene and miRNA expression, DNA methylation patterns, chromosomal imbalances, and predisposition to disease and chemosensitivity. The vision for the future entails an integrated and automated approach to these analyses, bringing the possibility of formulating an individualized treatment plan within days of a patient's initial presentation. With these expectations comes the hope that such an approach will lead to decreased toxicities and prolonged survival for patients.
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