As a result of the genetic research which has been occurring the past several decades, we are able to identify specific abnormalities present in each patient’s cancer. Each cancer case is unique, prompting the saying “no two cancers are alike.”
At The Center for Advanced Medicine, we believe that cancer treatment should be as personalized as possible. Why guess, when we can test?!?
The Signature test is very innovative, in that it analyzes a patient’s tissue for specific genetic alterations. A surgical or biopsy specimen previously obtained is sent from the pathology lab to Signatera’s lab, and an in-depth analysis is performed. Signatera identifies unique attributes in that tissue sample to create a “genetic signature” which is unique to that patient. A blood sample is obtained from that patient, which is then tested to look for the unique genetic signature. The result is a precise measurement of what is known as circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA), which provides us with the cancer load in the body.
Because the Signatera test measures fragments of cancer DNA – much smaller entities than a tumor or even a single cancer cell – we can identify cancer with far more precision than is seen with conventional lab testing or imaging.
We use Signatera as a baseline test, just prior to starting treatment with a new patient, and continue using it at regular intervals during and after treatment. This test, along with imaging and other lab tests, gives us a very accurate way of assessing progress.