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Understanding genetic vs. genomic testing in your cancer care

DNA test sequence for research and science

In the dynamic field of oncology, personalized medicine is revolutionizing the way we approach cancer treatment. At the heart of this transformation are genetic and genomic testing, two critical components that tailor treatment plans to the individual’s unique biological makeup. Understanding the nuances between these tests and the impact of their results on treatment plans and prognosis is essential for anyone navigating a cancer diagnosis.

What is genetic testing?

Genetic testing in the context of cancer care serves multiple crucial roles. It not only focuses on identifying inherited mutations, or changes, in your genes that might increase your risk of developing cancer but also has significant implications for treatment. This test is concerned with the specific genes you were born with, which can be passed down through families. Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, for instance, are well-known for significantly increasing the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

For individuals diagnosed with cancer, genetic testing can identify mutations that may influence the choice of treatment. For example, breast cancer patients with BRCA mutations may benefit from PARP inhibitors, a class of drugs that are particularly effective in targeting tumors with these specific genetic alterations. This illustrates the critical role of genetic testing not only in understanding an individual’s cancer risk but also in tailoring treatment plans to exploit vulnerabilities within cancer cells, offering a more personalized approach to cancer therapy.

What is genomic testing?

Genomic testing, on the other hand, is a broader concept. It examines the cancer’s DNA itself to identify mutations within the tumor that are driving the cancer’s growth. By mapping out the tumor’s genome, oncologists can pinpoint specific mutations or alterations in the cancer cells that may influence how the cancer behaves and responds to treatment.

This test is crucial for identifying targetable mutations for which there are specific drugs or treatment regimens. Genomic testing can reveal whether a cancer is likely to respond to chemotherapy, targeted therapy, or immunotherapy, making it a cornerstone of personalized cancer treatment.

Genetic and genomic testing are key elements of modern oncology, offering a more nuanced understanding of cancer at both the individual and tumor level. By identifying genetic risks and the specific characteristics of a tumor, these tests enable the customization of treatment plans that are both more effective and less burdensome for the patient. As research advances, the hope is that these tools will continue to refine our approach to cancer care, leading to better outcomes and more hope for those affected by this disease.


Ready to take control of your cancer care?

Navigating a cancer diagnosis can be overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it alone. The Outcomes4Me app empowers you with personalized insights and evidence-based information, directly derived from your own health data. Discover how genetic and genomic testing can influence your treatment options and prognosis, track your treatment progress, and access the latest in cancer care—all at your fingertips.

Download the Outcomes4Me app today and start moving toward informed, personalized cancer care. Your health, your decisions—powered by science.

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