What Are Biomarkers?
A biomarker is a biological molecule found in blood, other body fluids, or tissues that is a sign of a normal or abnormal process, or of a condition or disease. Some cancers are caused when there is a change or mistake in the body’s DNA, causing a tumor to grow. These DNA mistakes are known as biomarkers, and physicians can test for them when examining a tumor. Knowing if you have certain biomarkers can be very beneficial in determining which treatments are best suited for your cancer.
What Is Genomic Testing?
Genomic or biomarker testing is the way physicians look for biomarkers (genes, proteins, and other substances) to provide more info about a cancer. Each tumor has a unique pattern of biomarkers, and some biomarkers affect which treatments to pursue and how they work. Biomarkers can also help to diagnose and monitor cancer after treatment.
There are a few different ways to test for biomarkers, and testing can be done for both solid tumors and blood cancers. For solid tumors, a sample of cells is taken from the tumor, either during surgery, or as a biopsy. For blood cancers or solid tumors that can’t be safely biopsied, a sample of blood is drawn. In both cases, the samples are sent to a special lab where they are tested for different biomarkers. These tests are then used to help provide the best treatment options.
Should I Get Genomic Testing if I’ve Been Diagnosed with Cancer?
You should discuss with your physician if you should have genomic testing done. However, for certain cancers, such as non-small cell lung cancer, breast cancer, and colorectal cancer, biomarker testing is recommended. The biggest benefit of biomarker testing is that it can help to determine your treatment options. There are many promising clinical trials which require and target certain biomarkers.
What Are Targeted Therapies?
The results of a biomarker test could show that your cancer has a certain biomarker that is targeted by a known therapy. That means that the therapy may work to treat your cancer. There are certain cancer treatments, including targeted therapies and immunotherapies, which may only work for people whose cancers have certain biomarkers. Targeted therapies are a type of cancer treatment that targets proteins that control how cancer cells grow, divide, and spread. Many targeted therapies work by interrupting the signal from the mutated gene (biomarker) to prevent it from reaching the cell and therefore slowing the progression of the tumor. There are many clinical trials which use targeted therapies to treat specific biomarker cancers.
How Do I Find Biomarker Clinical Trials?
It can be difficult to know which trial will be the most beneficial for you. Our team of patient advocates, case managers, and our artificial intelligence based clinical trial matching system will find the best option for your individual case. There are clinical trials that focus on new molecules targeting different biomarkers that are actively recruiting patients and focus specifically on biomarkers. Find clinical trials here.