Molecular Testing & Finding the Best Treatment Path
- Molecular testing can help your doctor determine the best treatment option for your particular cancer.
- These tests can help determine if you are likely to respond to targeted therapies.
- Targeted therapies focus on specific aspects found on cancer cells only (as opposed to chemotherapy, which can damage healthy cells in the process of fighting cancer).
- Next-Generation Sequencing is a type of molecular testing that can provide information about any alterations or mutations in your tumor that may make a targeted therapy more likely to work (or not work).
“We need molecular testing to inform treatment options and treatment decisions for you,” explains Dr. Valsamo Anagnostou, a thoracic oncologist and leader of the molecular tumor board at Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.Read More
- Your treatment options & whether you’re likely to benefit from a targeted therapy
- Whether the targeted therapy is likely to increase survival and improve quality of life
- Whether your cancer will likely become resistant to a targeted therapy
Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)
Next-Generation Sequencing is a type of molecular testing. It is a comprehensive panel that looks for alterations or mutations in your tumor. Here’s how it works:
“DNA next-generation sequencing means determining the order of the four chemical building blocks.” Dr. Valsamo says. “By using this method, we can pinpoint the kind of genetic information that is carried in a particular DNA molecule, and also highlight changes in the DNA sequence or structure. We call these mutations. And these are the ones that may be used to match your cancer with a specific targeted therapy.”
To collect a sample for testing, your doctor will use part of your tumor tissue or do a small blood draw. Tumor-specific testing like this is called somatic testing.
Germline testing is often done in addition to somatic or tumor-based testing. This type of testing analyzes the DNA you were born with to look for mutations you may have inherited from your family. The testing is typically done with a simple blood draw or even just a bit of saliva.
Dr. Valsamo believes conducting a combination of tumor-based testing with next generation-sequencing (NGS) and germline testing can be a game-changer in understanding the best treatment plan for your cancer.
“This is very important for medical management as well as for making decisions about surveillance or additional medical procedures.”