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Personalized Cancer Therapy

Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center has launched personalized cancer therapy. Personalized cancer therapy refers to treatment tailored to your specific needs, based on genetic abnormalities found in your tumor.

Here is a list of frequently asked questions about personalized cancer therapy at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center:

What is being offered?

A new diagnostic test is being offered that determines genes that are abnormal in your tumor. This new test examines several of the most important genes (six to eight) all at once, compared to standard tests that look at only one gene at a time.

How will the test results be used?

The test results will go into Vanderbilt's electronic medical record with your consent. This information may be of use to your doctor to make decisions about your treatment.

What tumor types are being tested?

This test is being offered for melanoma, breast cancer and types of non-small cell lung cancer.

Am I eligible for this test?

For patients with certain types of lung cancer, the tests will be performed routinely as part of their care. If you are a patient with melanoma, you will be asked to review and sign a consent form as part of a larger clinical trial, which your doctor will fully explain. Those with a diagnosis of breast cancer will routinely be offered tumor genetic testing as part of their care. The information provided from those tests might present opportunities to participate in clinical trials that also include the standard of care. To request an appointment, you may call our Access Center at (615) 936-8422 or toll-free (877) 936-8422, or complete an online self-referral.

How does the test work?

The test will use tissue from your original biopsy. No new biopsy or additional procedures are needed for the test. However, if an additional biopsy is needed for medical reasons involved with your care, your Vanderbilt physician can order this test for that biopsy as well.

How might results of the test affect my care?

The test results will become part of your medical record. This information may help you and your doctor select the treatment that would be best for you. For example, some mutations may indicate that a drug will be particularly effective. Other mutations may indicate your tumor is resistant to certain treatments. Finally, it is possible that your tumor is found to have no mutations. In all cases, this information can help inform treatment decisions.

Based upon the test results, your options may include a new treatment being studied in a clinical trial. Vanderilt-Ingram Cancer Center is a leading academic medical center and National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center that offers many clinical trials of novel therapies, in addition to standard treatments recommended by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. For more information about our clinical trials, call (800) 811-8480 or search our database of clinical trials.

If your test suggests that you may be eligible for a clinical trial that is not offered at Vanderbilt and you decide to pursue that, we will support your decision. Our goal is always to make sure you receive the best care for you and your family.

It is important to know that because these cancer mutations are not inherited, results from these tests cannot be used to discriminate against you or your children.

What if I have a different type of cancer?

New panels for other cancers are being developed. In addition, we encourage you to discuss all options, including personalized cancer therapy, with your doctor. As a leading academic medical center and NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center offers many clinical trials of novel treatments, as well as all standard therapies recommended by the NCCN guidelines.

Where can I learn more?