Is My Cancer Different from Yours?

Is My Cancer Different from Yours?


is my cancer different?If you’ve been reading CancerHAWK for a while, you know that I’m a HUGE proponent of molecular & biomarker testing and taking a personalized approach to treating cancer.  It wasn’t until we were on the wrong path with Alan’s chemo treatments that we even really understood that two people with the exact same diagnosis can and do respond differently to the exact same treatment regimens.

I LOVE this new site that just launched this week…. it’s a first-of-its-kind, educational site offering patient-friendly videos that raise awareness of how molecular level diagnostics can better inform treatment decisions.  Check out

Taking a personalized approach to cancer treatment doesn’t guarantee success, but it sure can help your odds… so learn more about your specific cancer by asking your doctors these questions below….  and visit to learn more about individualized cancer treatment strategies.

Q: Is my cancer different?

A: Even though cancer affects millions of people each year, each cancer can be surprisingly unique. Even in the same organ, or in a single patient, cancer cells can be genetically different. Advancements now allow for treatments that may target these unique differences in tumor cells. Make sure your treatment is geared toward your individual cancer.

Q: How do I know if my cancer is different?

A: Many people are surprised to learn that every cancer is different on a genetic and molecular level, and that these differences may have implications for treatment. Exciting new cancer treatments, called targeted molecular therapies, can treat your cancer by attacking the specific changes that are causing your tumor to grow. Molecular-level testing may be able to identify these changes.

Q: What is molecular-level testing and how can it help my treatment?

A: Molecular-level testing of your tumor cells may be able to identify specific biomarkers and genetic abnormalities that are unique to your cancer. This information may help in planning your treatment. Ask your doctor about molecular testing and how it can affect treatment choices for your cancer.

Q: What will be learned from the testing?

A: Molecular-level testing of your tumor might uncover abnormalities, called mutations, or detect changes in the number of copies of a gene that can affect the level of important proteins. Finding these differences may help to identify a specific cellular pathway that is not working properly in your tumor and may explain why your tumor is growing. Some cancer drugs are designed specifically to target these pathways and the molecular defects that are sometimes altered in cancer. Ask your doctor if your tumor can be tested for biomarkers that may make your tumor, and your treatment strategy, unique.

Q: How and where can I get testing done on my tumor?

A: For most people, tumor tissue is saved when a tumor is biopsied or removed, and the tissue is stored at the hospital in the pathology lab. This tissue can be sent to diagnostic laboratories that specialize in testing for genes and proteins that may be altered in your tumor. While some of this testing may be done at your hospital, further testing can be done at labs that offer specialized genetic testing. Your doctor may be able to assist you in having samples of your tumor sent out for testing.

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