Biomarkers in Medical Practice
Every patient case is personal. Testing is an important step in cancer screening
because potential biomarkers may be identified in selected cancer types, thus providing
the opportunity to personalize a patient's treatment approach. While genetic testing
may accurately identify patients at high risk for hereditary cancers, biomarker
testing may help clinicians decide on an appropriate course of treatment. Clinical
benefits of testing go beyond achieving response rates, however. In many cases,
diagnostic testing may help identify the presence or absence of specific biomarkers,
helping to guide the timing and duration of appropriate therapy.
Enhanced communication among all the professionals on a patient's multidisciplinary
care team (e.g., oncologist, surgeon, interventional radiologist, and pathologist)
may help to define the adequate tumor sample needed to minimize invasive procedures.
During the initial biopsy, it is recommended to obtain a tumor sample that will
allow for comprehensive molecular testing on currently validated biomarkers. Moreover,
adequate sample collection can help the identification of new biomarkers that may
prove clinically useful and meaningful in the future.
Continued education of patients about biomarkers and the role of bio-specific medical
care may help patients better understand their treatment and explain why one therapy
may be a better option for them over another. By helping patients understand the
value of diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive biomarkers, we can encourage them
to participate in their own care. What's more, it's important to explain to patients
the rationale for collecting adequate biospecimens and discuss how scientists use
the information collected to address important questions that may help treat their