If you or a loved one has recently received a cancer diagnosis, you’re most likely having regular conversations with your medical team on treatment options, such as chemo, radiation, or even surgery, and the next steps. Often, cancer treatments are based on what works for the average person, but when it comes to a cancer diagnosis, it’s essential to know that not all cancers are the same. Is there more your or your loved one’s medical team can do? How can you talk to your doctors about looking beyond the standard cancer care to ensure an individualized cancer treatment plan is considered?
Standard v. Precision Medicine
Tumor tissue is like a fingerprint, unique to you alone, so treating it as such is imperative. Standard or routine cancer care typically includes targeted chemotherapy, surgery, radiation and, in some cases, genetic cancer testing.
Precision medicine (also known as precision healthcare)means that a patient’s genes, lifestyle and environment are considered before decisions about treatment and care are made. Treatment options may differ based on your family history of the disease, eating and exercise habits, stress level or where you live.
What is Live Tissue Science?
Taking precision medicine to the next level to ensure the most accurate personalized treatment options are considered is to have your doctor collect live tumor tissue. A tumor holds the knowledge to treat patients with precision, accuracy and timeliness. Yet, most hospitals still discard or compromise much of the tumor tissue they remove. In fact, the majority of hospitals test on “dead” tissue, leaving pathology reports short on precision answers for treatment decisions.
When SpeciCare receives live tumor tissue, our researchers can grow the tissue in a
laboratory setting and test it against as many as 300 known cancer drugs to provide individualized data on the courses of treatment that perform most effectively. This process turns the tumor tissue into the guinea pig in place of the patient.
Instead of prescribing radiation or chemo alone, live tissue can help move treatments beyond these routine therapies, including clinical trials, ex vivo therapy testing, clinical vaccines, organoid creation and more.
For example, tests on live tumor tissue for one SpeciCare patient diagnosed with liver and colon cancer found her tumors responded to leukemia and breast cancer drugs. These new treatment options would not have been considered since they are not commonly used to treat liver or colon cancer. As a result, the patient was able to identify two clinical trials to pursue.
Our process provides an individualized clinical trial tailored to each patient, with results returned in as little as a few weeks. Every cancer reacts differently, so our researchers test the full battery of treatment options. Research has found by using live tumor tissue, we can advance treatment success rates to as much as 50%.
Live tissue science can also help physicians understand chemotherapy side effects. Researchers can test the body’s sensitivity to chemotherapy before treatment begins. It can also help clinicians evaluate effectiveness to guide their chemo choices and save valuable time when time matters most.
Talking to Your Medical Team About SpeciCare
Cancer is a genetic disease caused by changes in the DNA that alter how cells function. By testing a unique combination of genetic changes and tumor DNA sequencing, researchers can help provide information to a patient’s medical team to aid in their treatment planning. Knowledge of the specific genetic mutation profile and key biomarkers helps identify targeted therapies and find precise options showing the most promise for a patient’s genetic makeup.
In most cases, patients (or a caregiver) must express the desire to have the tissue saved and tested with SpeciCare. If your medical team has questions or concerns, SpeciCare has patient advocates ready to help. If you do not have an oncologist yet, it’s important to note that SpeciCare is a pre-surgical/biopsy decision and does not require an oncologist going into surgery. Often, that decision is made after surgery.
We have worked closely with numerous community hospitals and major cancer centers to ensure that our tumor collection and storage process has been designed to make things as simple as possible for you and your clinical team. A SpeciKit with easy-to-follow detailed instructions for your clinical team will be provided, and our patient advocates will coordinate the shipping details and logistics. Once the surgery is complete, you will still get your doctor’s pathology report and diagnosis.
By preserving living tumor tissue from surgery or biopsy with SpeciCare, a patient can unlock hundreds of options for their fight against cancer. For more information on how to discuss preserving your tumor tissue, visit our FAQs page.