Questions about Cancer

What is cancer? 

Cancer is uncontrolled cell growth. 

What causes cancer? 

Cancer may develop as a consequence of aging, diet, genetic makeup, or because of environmental factors such as cigarette smoke, ultraviolet rays from the sun, or exposure to radiation or certain chemicals. 

How can I prevent cancer? 

There are many lifestyle choices which may lower your cancer risk. The American Cancer Society’s 6 Steps to Help Lower Your Cancer Risk is a guide to making healthy choices. 

How do I determine the best treatment for my cancer? 

Your physician is the person most qualified to help you navigate various treatment options. 

Personalized Medicine

What is Personalized Medicine? 

Personalized Medicine utilizes a patient’s individual characteristics, needs and preferences to help determine treatment options.  One aspect of personalized medicine is companion diagnostic tests, a category of laboratory tests that uses a patient's genetic information to help physicians identify customized treatment options. The practice of personalized medicine is based on the premise that for many diseases, including cancer, there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment. In personalized medicine, diagnostic tests are used to help tailor disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment based on the genetic makeup of a particular patient.1

 

Why Does Personalized Medicine Matter?

By identifying the genetic makeup of a patient, a physician may be able to determine a patient’s prognosis and more efficiently identify customized treatment options.

Is Personalized Medicine Right for Me?

Personalized Medicine can help identify which patients will respond to certain therapies based on their genetic makeup. Your physician will work with you to determine the tests and treatments that are right for you. 

Companion Diagnostics

What are Companion Diagnostics? 

Companion Diagnostics (CDx) are laboratory tests developed in parallel with particular drugs to identify patients who are most likely to benefit from treatment with these drugs. Information from test results helps physicians to personalize patient treatment plans. 

 

Non-small Cell Lung Cancer

What is non-small cell lung cancer? 

Non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is the most common type of lung cancer. Worldwide, approximately 1.8 million people are diagnosed with lung cancer annually,1 accounting for 13% of all cancers. Of these patients, roughly 85% to 90% have non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).2

Diagnosing Lung Cancer

To make a diagnosis for lung cancer, tumor tissue cells must be examined under a microscope. A bronchoscopy is a procedure that helps your doctor see the inside of the lungs using a thin, lighted instrument inserted through the nose or mouth. Tiny samples of tissue can be removed (biopsy) for further study. The Vysis ALK FISH test is one of many laboratory tests your doctor may order to gain a better understanding of your tumor cells. 

What is ALK?

ALK is an acronym for Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase, a protein found in normal cell growth. The ALK gene provides instructions for making the ALK protein. 

What does it mean to be ALK Positive?

About 3% to 5% of people with NSCLC may test positive for the ALK gene rearrangement. This means their ALK gene has a mutation which triggers uncontrolled cell growth. In patients with NSCLC, it is believed that a rearrangement in the ALK gene contributes to the cancer’s growth. 

How will my doctor test for ALK? 

To determine ALK status, tissue samples, typically obtained during a biopsy will be examined. The Vysis ALK FISH assay is the first FDA approved test for identification of ALK gene rearrangements.  

Breast Cancer

What is breast cancer? 

Breast cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the cells of the breast. 

Detecting and Diagnosing Breast Cancer

There are several methods that can be used to detect breast cancer. These include a clinical breast exam where the breast is examined for lumps or other changes and imaging techniques such as a mammogram, ultra sound, or MRI.  Your physician may order a biopsy to extract a sample of breast tissue for further examination.  Learn more about breast cancer screening methods at Cancer.org

What is HER-2? 

HER-2 stands for Human Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor 2 and it is a protein found in cell growth. 

What does it mean to be HER-2 positive? 

About 25 to 30% of the 1,200,000 women worldwide diagnosed each year with breast cancer have tumors with more than two copies of the HER-2 gene. This is sometimes referred to as HER-2 gene amplification, HER-2 over expression, or HER-2 positive. According to Breastcancer.org “extra HER2 genes tell breast cells to make too many HER2 receptors...This makes breast cells grow and divide in an uncontrolled way."3 HER-2 positive patients may be eligible for treatment with HERCEPTIN® (trastuzumab).

How will my doctor test for HER-2?

To determine HER-2 expression status, tissue samples, typically obtained during a biopsy, will be examined. Abbott’s PathVysion® HER-2 DNA FISH Probe Kit is a precise test that provides clinicians with accurate and reliable HER-2 status information for making critical decisions about therapy. 

Additional Resources

General Information and Caregiver Support

Association of Community Cancer Centers

American Cancer Society

CancerCare

Cancer Support Community 

Cancer.net

National Cancer Institute

National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship

National Comprehensive Cancer Network

Patient Advocate Foundation

Lung Cancer

Lung Cancer Alliance 

Lung Cancer Foundation of America 

LungCancer.org

LUNGevity.org

National Lung Cancer Partnership 

Uniting Against Lung Cancer 

 

 

 

 

 

Breast Cancer

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation

BreastCancerTrials.org

Living Beyond Breast Cancer

Metastatic Breast Cancer Network

Young Survival Coalition


 

 

 

 

 

Vysis ALK Break Apart FISH Probe Kit

Intended Use: The Vysis ALK Break Apart FISH Probe Kit is a test to detect rearrangements involving the ALK gene in tissue samples from non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients to aid in identifying those patients eligible for treatment with XALKORI® (crizotinib). 

Limitations: The clinical interpretation of any test results should be evaluated within the context of the patient's medical history and other diagnostic laboratory test results. 

Rx only

For In Vitro Diagnostic Use

PathVysion HER-2 DNA Probe Kit

Intended Use: The Vysis PathVysion HER-2 DNA Probe Kit is a test to detect amplification of the HER-2/neu gene in tissue samples from breast cancer patients to aid in determining and identifying those patients eligible for treatment with HERCEPTIN®

Limitations: The clinical interpretation of any test results should be evaluated within the context of the patient's medical history and other diagnostic laboratory test results. 

Rx only

For In Vitro Diagnostic Use

 


1. http://www.fda.gov/ScienceResearch/SpecialTopics/PersonalizedMedicine/ucm20041021.htm. Accessed 3.25.14.
2. World Cancer Day. (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2014, from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/resources/features/worldcancerday/
3. What is non-small cell lung cancer? (n.d.). Retrieved April 15, 2014, from American Cancer Society: http://www.cancer.org/cancer/lungcancer-non-smallcell/detailedguide/non-small-cell-lung-cancer-what-is-non-small-cell-lung-cancer
4. HER2Status (n.d.). Retrieved April 17, 2014, from Breastcancer.org: http://www.breastcancer.org/symptoms/diagnosis/her2