Tests Used In Cancer and its Treatment

Cancer Connect

Diagnostic - Genomic - Monitoring Tests & Cancer

Reviewed by Dr. C.H. Weaver M.D. Medical editor (08/2018)

The testing center provides an overview and explanation of all the tests used by doctors that are related to predicting, detecting, diagnosing, and monitoring cancer. Broadly, these tests fall into broad categories that includes Genetic Tests, and Diagnostic & Monitoring Tests.

Genomic Testing

Genomics generally refers to the study of the study of the entire genome (all of the DNA in an organism). Genomics can consider multiple genes and how they interact with each other and the environment to affect health. Examples of genomic tests are the Oncotype DX test which is now available for use in breast, colon and prostate cancer. The Oncotype DX tests evaluate the activity of several genes in a sample of tumor tissue in order to assess the likelihood of cancer recurrence. This information about recurrence risk is then available to help patients make decisions about their treatment in consultation with their doctor. Oncotype DX can help many patients avoid receiving chemotherapy unnecessarily, or provide confidence that chemotherapy is the best treatment option.

Similarly, research that combines genomics with pharmacology (pharmacogenomics) is studying how genetic variation affects an individual’s response to particular medications. Variability in genes involved with drug metabolism can have a substantial effect on drug response and drug side effects. Progress in this area is likely to contribute to more individualized, more effective, and less toxic drug treatments.

In short, research in genomics is expanding at a rapid rate and will have a profound effect on many aspects of disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. Diseases such as cancer are remarkably complex; genomics provides researchers and physicians with tools to explore and address these complexities.

Learn more about the role of genomic testing:

Genetic Tests

Genetic Tests are used to determine if an individual has an inherited genetic mutation that substantially increases the risk of certain types of cancer. For example, women with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have a high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. Women who learn that they carry one of these mutations can take steps to reduce their risk of developing cancer or to detect it at the earliest stage possible. Specific genetic tests are increasingly being defined for a growing number of cancers; To learn more about genetic testing, visit Genetic Tests.

Diagnostic Testing & Evaluation

Diagnostic Tests are used to accurately diagnose cancer and other diseases, determine prognosis, and monitor cancer recurrence and the safety of treatment. Diagnostic tests are used to diagnose primary disease, identify cancer subtype, predict prognosis, direct treatment, evaluate response to treatment, detect minimal residual disease, and monitor remission or progression. There are a number of diagnostic tests that fall into five categories: pathology, diagnostic imaging, blood tests, tumor marker tests, and genomics; To learn more, visit Diagnostic and Monitoring Tests.


Treatment & Care