Diagnostics

Chemotherapy Sensitivity Testing

Cancer is a disease characterized by uncontrolled cell growth and proliferation. Because cancer develops when genes regulating cell growth and differentiation undergo certain aberrant alterations, this testing is essential to customize the appropriate treatment plan for each patient. In order to first diagnose and treat a patient's cancer, Chemotherapy Sensitivity Testing is performed to identify the optimal protocol for each individual patient. A preserved tissue sample from prior surgical procedures or live tissue from a new biopsy (when available) is used to complete molecular profiling and chemotherapy sensitivity testing.

Please see Chemotherapy Sensitivity Testing under the "Science Tab" for further information.

Laboratory Evaluation

Extensive laboratory evaluation is necessary for personalized cancer treatment. In conventional cancer treatment, the treatment is determined simply by the origin of the cancer. For example, every patient with pancreatic cancer could potentially get the same treatment regimen, regardless of other potentially confounding factors. The following is a list of only some of the labs that will be tested to help determine an appropriate cancer treatment regimen:

  1. Ceruloplasmin levels; ceruloplasmin is the copper storage protein. Copper is necessary for activation of growth factors for cancer. Many cancers sequester copper to accomplish angiogenesis, which is the development of new blood vessels to feed the cancer. Elevated ceruloplasmin levels should be treated with a copper lowering substance, such as ammonium tetrathiomolybdate.
  2. Lymphocyte subset panel; as cancer progresses, the quantity of different types of white blood cells tends to change, to favor the proliferation of the cancer. Typically, neutrophils increase while lymphocytes decrease. Cytotoxic T cells will often become low, which decreases the ability of the individual's immune system to fight cancer. Measuring these white blood cells allows us to appropriately strengthen the immune system.
  3. Vascular Endothelial Growth Factor (VEGF);stimulates the growth of new blood vessels and perhaps the most commonly over-expressed growth factor for cancers. Elevated levels require techniques, such as the use of hyperbaric oxygen, ammonium tetrathiomolybdate, and/or Avastin to lower VEGF levels.
  4. Glucose, insulin, and HgbA1C levels; elevated glucose and insulin levels promote growth of glycolytic cancers. Elevated levels should be treated with dietary changes (low carbohydrate or ketogenic diet), as well as drugs and/or nutraceuticals that lower blood sugar and insulin levels.
  5. Heavy Metals; elevated heavy metals in the urine should be chelated with oral and/or IV medicines because the heavy metals increase oxidative stress, which interferes with the proper function of normal tissues.
  6. Circulating Tumor Cells (CTCs); although this test is not typically ordered by most oncologists, it is perhaps one of the most important diagnostic tests for individuals with advanced-stage cancers. Most patients don't succumb to the primary tumor, rather they die from metastatic disease. The circulating tumor cells are the next generation of disease which will eventually result in further metastasis. Patients with high levels of CTCs require aggressive treatment.