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What is biomarker testing?


A sample of your tumor (tissue biopsy) or your blood (liquid biopsy) will be collected. This can be done at your doctor’s office or during surgery. The sample will be sent to a certified pathology laboratory in your medical facility or to an external diagnostic laboratory.

One or more tests will be done to show the changes in the DNA, RNA, or proteins in your cancer cells. Tests can be limited to only a few genes or proteins or can test many genes at once using new, comprehensive techniques such as NGS (New Generation Sequencing) and multi-gene panels. With new technology, many different testing platforms can now be used for biomarker testing. You should discuss these with your doctor.

Once testing is complete, ask your doctor for the report and discuss a personalized treatment plan and roadmap for your journey.

Why is biomarker testing important?


Knowing your biomarker status will help identify the unique characteristics of your tumor; for example, whether your tumor has a germline (inherited) mutation or somatic (acquired) mutations. Knowing your biomarkers will also help you and your doctor decide on the most effective treatment plan, while avoiding treatments that may not work for you or may cause you harm.

Biomarkers Overview

Patient Perspective

Here from a colorectal cancer patient about how her biomarker knowledge informed her journey.

When and how should I have biomarker testing?


Depending on the biomarkers to be tested, the testing could be done at different points in your journey:

 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) and American Society of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) recommend that doctors test these biomarkers individually or as part of a comprehensive biomarker panel. These comprehensive, multi-gene panels currently test hundreds of genes at one time.

 


Biomarker 101 information

Download: Biomarkers and colorectal cancer

Information on what is a biomarker, why testing is important and how it is performed.

Download English

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