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What Is Biomarker Testing for Cancer Treatment?

Biomarker testing is a method of looking for cancer-related genes, proteins, and other chemicals (also known as biomarkers or tumor markers). Biomarkers have a distinct pattern in each person’s cancer. Some biomarkers have an impact on the effectiveness of cancer therapies. Biomarker test might aid you and your doctor in determining the best cancer treatment for you.

Other types of biomarkers can aid doctors in diagnosing and monitoring cancer during and after therapy. Visit the Tumor Markers fact page for additional information.

Biomarker testing is for cancer patients. Biomarker test is available for patients with solid tumors and blood cancer.

Biomarker testing for cancer therapy is also known as:

  • tumor examination
  • genetic testing of tumors
  • genomic profiling or genomic testing
  • molecular profiling vs. molecular testing
  • testing on the somatic
  • subtyping of cancer
  • If a biomarker test is used in conjunction with a certain therapy, it is referred to as a companion diagnostic test.

Biomarker testing is distinct from genetic test, which is done to determine if a person has inherited mutations that increase their risk of cancer. Inherited mutations are ones that you inherit from your parents. Your parents have handed them on to you.

Biomarker testing plays a crucial role in cancer treatment for several reasons:

  1. Diagnosis and subtype identification: Biomarker testing helps in diagnosing cancer and identifying specific subtypes. Certain biomarkers are unique to different types of cancer or specific subtypes within a particular cancer. By analyzing biomarkers, healthcare professionals can accurately classify the cancer, which aids in determining the most appropriate treatment approach.
  2. Personalized treatment selection: Biomarker testing allows for personalized treatment selection based on an individual’s specific biomarker profile. Certain biomarkers indicate whether a patient is likely to respond to a particular treatment or whether they may experience adverse reactions. This information helps healthcare providers tailor the treatment plan to maximize effectiveness and minimize potential harm.
  3. Targeted therapy: Biomarker testing identifies specific molecular targets in cancer cells that can be exploited by targeted therapies. Targeted therapies are drugs or treatments designed to specifically act on these molecular targets, blocking their activity or inhibiting specific pathways involved in cancer growth and progression. By identifying the presence of specific biomarkers, targeted therapies can be used to attack cancer cells while minimizing damage to healthy cells.
  4. Prognosis and monitoring: Biomarker testing can provide valuable information about a patient’s prognosis and disease progression. Some biomarkers are associated with certain prognostic factors, such as the likelihood of recurrence or metastasis. Regular biomarker monitoring during and after treatment allows healthcare professionals to assess the effectiveness of treatment, detect any signs of disease progression, and make necessary adjustments to the treatment plan.
  5. Clinical trial eligibility: Biomarker testing helps determine a patient’s eligibility for participation in clinical trials. Clinical trials often require specific biomarker criteria for enrollment, as they aim to evaluate the efficacy of targeted therapies or other experimental treatments in patients with specific biomarker profiles. Biomarker testing allows patients to access potentially groundbreaking treatments that are still being investigated.


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