Target Your Cancer

A cancer diagnosis can produce great uncertainty. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you might feel overwhelmed by all of the questions you have and all of the information you are being given. However, information is the key to finding options in your fight against cancer.

One of the newest and most advanced ways to help physicians assess your options is to identify the biomarkers or “targets” that are specific to your cancer. Today, tumor profiling, also called molecular profiling, makes this possible, and at the WVU Cancer Institute, we use this new oncology service to do just that.

What is Tumor Profiling?

Tumor profiling is an alternative to the one-size-fits-all approach to cancer treatment. It uses a focused personalized approach to treatment that specifically targets an individual patient’s tumor. Most importantly, tumor profiling may increase the likelihood that a patient will benefit from cancer therapy.

Tumor profiling marks an important step forward in oncology and reflects a trend personalized cancer care . The WVU Cancer Institute uses tumor profiling to identify the specific genetic aspects of a person’s tumor, called biomarkers, which we can then potentially target. Targeting a tumor means attacking attributes of the tumor that are allowing it to grow and spread and customizing a treatment plan specifically designed to alter the growth and development of a specific patient’s tumor. This enhances the possibility that the patient may respond favorably to therapy.

Tumor profiling helps us to know which treatments are more likely to be effective, and it can also help us to identify important treatment options that might not have otherwise been considered. This approach is also expected to reduce the staggering healthcare costs connected to the disease. If the right therapy gets to the right patient, then the patient avoids potential side effects and costs associated with a therapy that will not help them.

How Does Tumor Profiling Work?

Tumor profiling begins with an analysis of a tumor and its biomarkers. The information can then be matched to published studies from the world’s leading cancer researchers to identify therapies with a higher likelihood of clinical benefit, as well as therapies that may be unlikely to create benefit. Since new research in cancer and biomarkers continually emerges, a medical and scientific literature search that correlates biomarker expression to therapy is critically important because it identifies some of the latest biomarkers and drug information from the relevant current medical literature. This ensures physicians are working with the latest and most relevant medical information as they make treatment decisions with their patients.

How Can It Help?

This type of tumor profiling service is well suited for people affected by a wide variety of cancers, including people with aggressive disease, rare cancers, and those with limited treatment options, as well as those who may have multiple options from which to choose.

Some patients have seen their cancer treated successfully with targeted therapy, and others have benefitted from increased progression-free survival rates (time during which the cancer did not grow or spread) and improved quality of life, both of which are very important factors to patients with advanced forms of the disease.

Through tumor profiling, we are able to increase the possibility that our patients will respond favorably to therapy, and thereby avoid the potential side effects and the costs associated with a therapy that may be less likely to help the patient.