What is personalized cancer care?

Personalized cancer care is based on the concept that each person’s cancer is unique. Treatment that works for one person may be completely ineffective for the other person. With personalized cancer care, we may be able to identify the right biomarker or “target” associated with a person’s unique cancer and create a personalized treatment plan tailored to each patient.

What is tumor profiling?

Tumor profiling, also called molecular profiling, involves the testing of a person’s individual tumor to determine its genetic and molecular structure. The genetic and molecular structure of a tumor is unique to each patient. The information derived from tumor profiling identifies specific biomarkers that can be targeted with specific treatments known to be more effective against these specific biomarker targets. Equally important, the information can prevent the use of treatments known to be ineffective.

 What are biomarkers?

The word “biomarker” can refer to many different compounds in the body that indicate something about your health. When people refer to cancer biomarkers, they are usually referring to proteins, genes, and other molecules at the genetic and molecular level that affect how cancer cells grow, multiply, die, and respond to other compounds in the body. More recently, the global signature landmarks of the cancer cell genome, e.g. the total tumor mutational load and genome instability status, have been included as potential biomarkers to guide immunotherapy. Biomarkers provide a number of key indicators to doctors and their patients. The discovery of biomarkers across multiple tumor types has unlocked new information about cancer biology by providing critical insights to biological, pathogenic, and pharmacologic responses to treatment. Some tumor types may have a number of biomarkers associated with them.

How is tumor profiling performed?

Tumor profiling is performed with the use of a tumor profiling service that tests tumors for specific genetic and molecular information. After a cancer diagnosis, we send a tumor sample obtained from biopsy to a laboratory for analysis. The tumor is examined to identify biomarkers that may be targeted by various available treatments. These biomarkers in a patient’s tumor are compared with the latest clinical literature to provide valuable information about therapies that may be more likely to produce a positive response.

Who is eligible for tumor profiling?

Tumor profiling can be helpful for a wide variety of solid tumors. You may be a good candidate if you have an aggressive or advanced cancer; you have not been responsive to therapy; you have a rare cancer; you are facing limited treatment options; or you and your doctor are exploring treatment options but the best treatment plan is not clear.

Is tumor profiling covered by insurance?

Medicare and other insurance providers may reimburse the cost for this service. In some instances, you may be billed for all or some of the costs of the profiling.

What tumor profiling service does the WVU Cancer Institute use?

Among the profiling services available to the WVU Cancer Institute is a new oncology service called Caris Molecular Intelligence®, from Caris Life Sciences®. Others may or may not be listed.