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Personalized Cancer Test

April 21, 2010

A new test that sequences a patient’s entire genetic code could help doctors treat cancer more effectively.


A personalized cancer test. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

When a doctor removes a tumor, it can be hard to tell if some cancerous tissue remains—until cancer symptoms recur much later. Now, Johns Hopkins oncologist Luis Diaz and his colleagues have a new test that involves sequencing a patient’s entire genome, or DNA blueprint. They compare the DNA of the patient’s healthy tissue to the cancerous tissue, looking for DNA rearrangements—mistakes that indicate cancer. Then, after the patient’s cancer treatment, they conduct a blood test and see if it still contains this rearranged DNA—a sign that some cancer remains.

LUIS DIAZ (John Hopkins):
What this will enable us to do is to tell the patient "we detect tumor in your body, even though we can’t see it by any other means.

Diaz says that alerting doctors to the presence of cancer early would help them treat it more effectively. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.