From the initial diagnosis, to surgery, treatment, recovery and what seems like a never ending number of follow ups, cancer is a disease that has a tendency to not only break down your body, but your mind along with it.
One of the most trying parts of the experience is the continuous need for monitoring in the months and years after your initial diagnosis. Subtle abnormalities in any sort of body function, lumps, or abnormal test samples often necessitate the need for additional testing in order to chart the growth and mutation of cells within your body responsible for cancer.
One of the most common methods used to explore these mutations is the biopsy. If you’re lucky enough to have not had a biopsy yet, it’s essentially a surgery used to look within the body for a wide range of issues that may – or may not be – directly related to your cancer. The surgery is invasive, and carries with it additional time in the hospital, as well as at home recovering for days – or weeks, depending on the nature of the biopsy.
Until recently, the biopsy was necessary in almost all cases that required a peek inside the body to determine what – if any – mutations cancer cells were responsible for in regards to the disease itself. While the biopsy isn’t going anywhere, a company named Trovagene may have a solution that would minimize the need for biopsies of an exploratory nature.
Trovagene has a wide array of testing options available to your healthcare professional, one of which is known as the KRAS test. This test extracts circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) from the blood or urine using a proprietary method that amplifies these DNA fragments and enriches for mutant alleles in order to detect cell mutation through a sequencing process. KRAS mutation testing has been proven to detect the following known mutations:
These mutations affect the way the KRAS gene encodes a protein found on cell membranes that acts as a sort of regulatory on/off switch for the growth of cells. Since cancer disrupts the rate of normal cell growth, KRAS mutation can be an important factor in the growth and spread of some forms of cancers. Additionally, the detection of KRAS mutations allows for better identification and treatment of cancer and can accurately predict a poor response to some forms of drugs or treatment, all without the need for a biopsy.
The science behind KRAS testing revolves around a relatively new process called ctDNA testing. ctDNA is the byproduct of a dead cancer cell and whether the cell dies naturally or from treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, the ctDNA left behind makes its way into your blood stream. Once in the blood, it ultimately finds its way into your urine through the filtering process.
The Trovagene KRAS test utilizes blood or urine in order to analyze ctDNA and KRAS in order to make an accurate report to your oncologist detailing on-going cell mutation. Once the sample is collected, it’s shipped to an outside laboratory and the results are made available to your doctor within two weeks of the lab receiving the sample.
While the test isn’t intended as a substitute for a biopsy, it could ultimately lead to less need overall. In an exploratory sense, if a better option exists to chart these mutations, it’s worth exploring. Only your doctor knows what’s right for you particular type and stage of cancer, but when faced with an exploratory biopsy, it’s definitely a question worth asking.