In view of advances in early detection and treatment, the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancer patients combined is now approximately 66%. As a result, there are more than 13.7 million cancer survivors in the United States, with this number increasing by 2% annually. For many patients, improvements in survival have been countered by therapy-associated adverse effects that may seriously impair long-term functional status, workplace productivity, and quality of life. Approximately 20% to 40% of cancer patients given neurotoxic chemotherapy develop chemotherapy-induced peripheral neurotoxicity (CIPN), which represents one of the most common and potentially permanent nonhematologic side effects of chemotherapy. Permanent bilateral hearing loss and/or tinnitus can result from several ototoxic therapies, including cisplatin- or carboplatin-based chemotherapy. CIPN and ototoxicity represent important challenges because of the lack of means for effective prevention, mitigation, or a priori identification of high-risk patients, and few studies have applied modern genomic approaches to understand underlying mechanisms/pathways. Translational genomics, including cell-based models, now offer opportunities to make inroads for the first time to develop preventive and interventional strategies for CIPN, ototoxicity, and other treatment-related complications. This commentary provides current perspective on a successful research strategy, with a focus on cisplatin, developed by an experienced, transdisciplinary group of researchers and clinicians, representing pharmacogenomics, statistical genetics, neurology, hearing science, medical oncology, epidemiology, and cancer survivorship. Principles outlined herein are applicable to the construction of research programs in translational genomics with strong clinical relevance and highlight unprecedented opportunities to understand, prevent, and treat long-term treatment-related morbidities.
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