Getting Personal with Targeted Cancer Therapy
The new ability to identify biomarker characteristics in certain cancers provides the opportunity to personalize a patient's treatment approach.
This breakthrough in cancer treatment is called molecular diagnostic testing. At Northridge Hospital, our team of oncologists, surgeons, pathologists and laboratory specialists strive to offer the most cutting-edge treatments available.
Am I eligible for molecular diagnostics?
You must be a current or prospective patient at the Leavey Cancer Center with lung, colon, stomach, brain, breast, lymph/blood, melanoma, head and neck cancer or have sarcoma.
What if I have another type of cancer?
Molecular diagnostics is an emerging field in personalized medicine. Although molecular diagnostic testing is moving at a rapid pace, it is not yet available for all tumor sites.
What is Molecular Diagnostics?
Before molecular diagnostics, clinicians categorized cancer cells according to their pathology, by looking at their appearance under a microscope. Every cancer cell has its own pattern of active genes and proteins.
Molecular diagnostic profiling tests for a variety of biomarkers in the DNA of a tissue sample to help us better diagnose, stage and treat cancer on an individualized basis. While genetic testing may accurately identify patients at high-risk for hereditary cancers, biomarker testing may help clinicians decide on an appropriate course of treatment.
What are Smart Drugs/Targeted Therapy?
Once a tumor’s mutations are identified using molecular diagnostics, and if a targeted therapy is available for that specific mutation, it can be used on the tumor. This tailored approach can help slow and even reverse the tumor’s growth with minimal damage to healthy cells. This may involve enrolling in a clinical trial since many smart drugs are quite new.
It is important to know that even when smart drugs are effective, they may not be able to eliminate the tumor completely. For this reason, we continue to broaden our program in order to provide additional treatment options if the cancer returns. Using genetic information to guide drug therapy is just the beginning.
In the near future, genomics -- the science of reading and interpreting the DNA sequence -- will help Leavey Cancer Center physicians select the best tests and procedures for their patients. Eventually, genetics will help guide efforts to prevent disease and maintain good health.
Please ask your Leavey Cancer Center physician if you are a candidate for molecular diagnostics. If you are looking for a doctor we invite you to use our Find-A Doctor feature on this website, or call 818-908-8677 ... 24-hours a day.