Any time someone is diagnosed with cancer, many decisions have to be made regarding development of an optimal personalized treatment plan. Development of an optimal treatment plan requires accurate information regarding the diagnosis, prognosis and predicted responsiveness of a specific tumor – in other words accurate staging of the tumor. This information comes from several sources such as a physician’s judgment based upon the physical signs and symptoms of a patient, traditional laboratory testing, and newer molecular testing.
Accurate information is required because all treatment plans (such as surgery, radiation, drug-therapy, surveillance, and even watching and waiting) have benefits and risks that the physician and patient need to weigh. These considerations help to determine an optimal treatment plan for that patient with that tumor at that time. Some cancers exhibit very little variation from patient to patient in terms of prognosis and predictive responsiveness. This means that the diagnosis, prognosis and predictive responsiveness achieved by traditional laboratory tests may be entirely appropriate to design an optimal treatment plan for a specific patient. Many cancers, however, exhibit a large variation in prognosis and predictive responsiveness from patient to patient. Often accurate information cannot be obtained through traditional laboratory testing alone – these cancers require the use of newer molecular tests to enable development of an optimal personalized treatment plan. Many common cancers have such molecular testing options available.
Unfortunately, development of molecular testing for rare cancers lags behind the advances made in common cancers. Sometimes testing has been developed in a given cancer institution and may be available only to patients treated at that institution.
At Castle Biosciences, we focus on addressing this gap. We work with leading cancer institutions to in-license proprietary technologies and complete development and validation. The ultimate goal is to make these proven tests available to all individuals afflicted with a rare cancer.