In the past, the only treatment option for patients diagnosed with late stage lung cancer was chemotherapy. Now, due to new medical advancements in lung cancer, there are other options besides chemotherapy, and your doctor can prescribe you an individualized treatment plan depending on the type of cancer you have. In order for your doctor to determine the kind of lung cancer you have, he or she must perform a Biomarker Test, also called a “Mutation Test”.
What is Biomarker Testing? Why is it Important?
Biomarkers are small molecules found in your blood and other bodily fluids. For doctors, they identify either a normal or abnormal process, and the presence or absence of a disease.
Biomarker testing helps to identify the subtype of lung cancer you have, and the possible gene mutations that caused your lung cancer. Having this information is critical, and helps your doctor decide on an individualized treatment plan for you.
If you have been diagnosed with lung cancer, it is very important that you ask your doctor about biomarker testing. If your tumor tests positive for an EGFR or ALK mutation, there are oral-targeted therapies that exist which fight specifically against your kind of lung cancer.
How is a Biomarker Test Performed?
Biomarker testing requires a biopsy, or a tissue sample, of your tumor. A pathologist or thoracic surgeon will perform a biopsy and then the lung tissue is sent to a lab for testing. This is not a blood test. Because this test requires examining tumor cells, you can only get this test if you have already been diagnosed with lung cancer. Biomarker testing should occur with your first lung biopsy, so the results are factored into your individualized treatment plan.