There’s a new type of test that could help cancer patients – yet nearly 2/3 of those that could benefit do not receive the testing.
“Genomic testing is an important tool across the different types of cancer” says Dr. Neil M. Iyengar, a medical oncologist and researcher with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
“This test looks specifically at the DNA or genes in cancer cells” adds Dr. Iyengar. “So genomic testing is identifying mutations within the cancer cells that may not be found in the normal healthy cells in our body.”
That information – helps doctors and patients choose more specific treatment plans.
“It was really important because it narrowed down my field of exactly where I wanted to go in my treatment plan because the report that came back from the genomic testing indicated that I had mutations that I would not have known about had I not had the testing” says cancer patient Karen Peterson.
She was diagnosed in 2017 with stage IV metastatic triple negative breast cancer with tumors in her lungs, ribs, spine, and pelvis. Karen wanted to know as much as possible about her cancer and possible treatments.
“It was just important for me to feel as if I had exercised all my options and so I went out and did some research and I did more research in regards to breast cancer research, triple negative breast cancer research. It led me to a particular research oncologist who introduced me to a tool called genomic testing that she thought would be valuable because I had said to her, ‘I need to make an informed decision.’”
The testing lead Karen to tailor her treatment and to take part in an immunotherapy trial. Now two years later, Karen is doing better and last month was declared “with no evidence of disease.”
Dr. Iyengar says it’s important for all cancer patients to have a discussion with their oncologist and doctors about genomic testing and whether it’s right for them.
“I got really lucky” adds Peterson. “I’m really glad that I met an oncologist who introduced me to such a valuable tool.”