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Molecular Profiling (Genomic Testing)

Studying the DNA of cancer to tailor treatments and improve outcomes

What is Molecular Profiling?

All people have genetic differences – like hair color, eye color, and height. So it only makes sense that cancer cells also have subtle differences based on genetics.

Molecular profiling—or “tumor genomic profiling”—is a form of testing that classifies tumors based on this genetic make-up to help diagnose and treat cancer. Using a blood test or biopsy, this testing examines the DNA of cancer cells, looking for genetic mutations that have been acquired by these cells. In doing so, molecular profiling:

  • Helps Erlanger’s oncologists deliver targeted therapies that attack a cancer’s specific genomic aberration, allowing a better response to treatment
  • Empowers our oncology team with a tremendous amount of predictive, prognostic and therapeutic information early in a person’s cancer diagnosis. This is vital because the first course of treatment is often the most important in controlling, and perhaps curing, the cancer.
  • Lets us quickly identify eligible patients for early and late-stage clinical trials; while exploring new biomarkers that can predict response to specific treatments.

Transforming How We Understand Cancer

Since the completion of the human genome project, our knowledge and understanding of cancer has undergone a fundamental transformation. What we know about how cancer starts, grows and spreads is completely different from what we thought only 10 years ago. We now know that cancer, at its most basic level, is a disease of the genome, a person’s set of genetic instructions. Each cancer has a different genomic profile; and we now know that a one-size-fits-all approach to all cancers misses the forest for the trees.

The Region’s Most Advanced Molecular Profiling

Erlanger oncologists have access to the latest tools in molecular profiling – all of which can work together synergistically to help in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. We select the appropriate test(s) based on a patient’s tumor or blood characteristics. These technologies include:

  • Next-generation sequencing (NGS) – Finds mutations in 5 to 500+ genes in a single test.
  • Chromosomal microarray (CMA) – Uses microchip-based test for high-volume, automated analysis of many pieces of DNA at once.
  • Fluorescence in-situ hybridization (FISH) – Locates a specific DNA sequence by exposing chromosomes to a DNA “probe” that has a fluorescent molecule attached to it.
  • Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) – Lets researchers “amplify” (produce millions of copies of) a DNA sequence fast and economically.
  • Immunohistochemical studies (IHC) – Uses staining to show whether or not the cancer cells have HER2 receptors and/or hormone receptors on their surface.

Erlanger physicians order molecular test(s) from PathGroup, a best-in-class commercial laboratory service provider accredited by the Commission on Laboratory Accreditation of the College of American Pathologists (CAP). 

Erlanger Resources

To learn more about molecular profiling, contact the Erlanger Cancer Resource Center at 423-778-5708