because we know that cancer can be highly variable from one person to the other, based on the changes at the molecular level, each patient, even those with the same diagnosis, have a unique set of changes that influence how a person will respond to therapy, or how aggressive the cancer is. cancer cells are tested to detect genes, proteins and markers – these biomarkers can then can provide information about the cancer. biomarkers [shortened from biological marker] can identify a specific mutation in a cancer cell, testing for this type of mutation [eg. her2] can determine whether certain types of targeted therapies may work to treat the cancer [eg. herceptin] or it can predict how well a person may respond to treatment [eg. PD-L1].
biomarkers are any molecule that can be measured in the blood, bodily fluids or tissues, they can be genomic or non-genomic. they are the fingerprint of the tumour, and are tested using comprehensive biomarker testing [comprehensive genomic profiling, molecular profiling, etc.] either through a biopsy of the cancer cells or from blood. for certain cancers, they are critical in determining the appropriate treatment or if there is an available clinical trial.
biomarkers are the difference between a personalized approach to cancer care and standard care because they require us to think about cancer based on its molecular profile versus its location. biomarkers are an important facet to precision medicine, allowing clinicians to select the best cancer treatment. in order to achieve this a comprehensive picture of the tumour at the dna level is needed through comprehensive genomic profiling.
the month of november is precision medicine awareness month, follow @cancercolab @coloncanda and @lymphomacanada to find out more about precision medicine and create dialogue around the importance of biomarker testing for canadians
learn more here and read more about biomarkers here