Testing Terminology

Navigating the cancer process starts with explaining and helping patients understand the terminology behind commonly used words and phrases.

Terms & Phrases

Diagnosis

A diagnosis is the confirmation that cancer is present and identifies the type of cancer.

Prognosis

Prognosis is the likely course of your cancer. Prognosis also provides you and your health care team with the severity and likely survival of your cancer. This information also helps you and your team determine the best course of treatment for you.

Testing Methods

Testing methodology refers to the way your blood or tissue is processed and analyzed. Your provider may order one or more types of testing methods, depending on your specific needs. The information that a provider receives from these tests can be used to guide treatment selection.

Treatment Selection

Treatment Selection refers to the plan that you and your care team make to treat your cancer. Treatment selection is unique for all patients. The information discovered is from the biomarker testing ordered by your health care provider. For example, your provider may recommend a specific targeted therapy if your cancer has a driver or actionable mutation.

Genetics versus Genomics

Genetics is the study of the genes people inherit at birth, passed on from their family through the generations.

Genomics refers to the study of gene mutations that may drive various cancer behaviors, from how aggressive it is to whether it spreads to different locations in the body.

Tumor Profiling (Biomarker Testing)

Also called genomic profiling, molecular profiling, or biomarker testing, is laboratory testing performed on a tumor to identify any gene mutations or abnormal markers. This information identifies the tumor biology and what’s driving the cancer’s growth.

Tumor profiling can help build a comprehensive prognosis, and identify the unique drivers of your cancer.

Treatment Options

Not all cancer patients or types of cancer are eligible for all treatment options; talk with your medical team to determine if which is right for you.

Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy (Chemo) is likely the most common therapy people know about when hearing the term cancer. Chemo is a type of cancer treatment that flows through the bloodstream to virtually every part of the body to stop or kill the growth of cancer cells. Chemotherapy is given by mouth, injection, infusion or under the skin either alone or in combination with other cancer treatments.

Radiation

Radiation uses beams of intense energy to stop or kill the growth of cancer cells. High energy beams from a machine are used to target a precise area of the body to destroy the cells causing your cancer to grow and divide. There are many types of radiation therapy today, speak with your team about the best option for you or to learn what your clinic can offer.

Surgery

Surgery is removal of the tumor and nearby tissue during an operation, typically performed by a surgical oncologist or specialist. Not all cancer patients or types of cancer are eligible for surgery; talk with your medical team about options that are right for you.

Targeted therapy

Targeted therapies are types of cancer treatment that target or attack cancer gene mutations that are causing the cancer to grow, otherwise known as “actionable mutations.” The therapy is designed to align to a specifically identified mutation through biomarker testing, working to inhibit the cells from continuing to replicate. Not all cancer patients or types of cancer are eligible for targeted therapies; talk with your medical team about options that are right for you.

Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that uses a person’s own immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapy is an emerging class of treatment that can either boost or change one owns immune system to find and kill cancer.

Precision Medicine

Precision medicine, also known as personalized medicine, is an approach that examines a person’s tumor biology to uncover the underlying causes of tumor growth from a DNA and RNA  level.  Precision Medicine uses the specific information of a person’s tumor biology to help diagnose, treatment plan and provide a prognosis for the individual patient.