Molecular testing involves examining your DNA, the chemical database that carries instructions for your body’s functions. Molecular testing can reveal changes or alterations (mutations) in your genes that may cause illness or disease. Mutations can cause a cell to make (or not make) proteins that affect how it grows and divides into new cells. Certain mutations can cause cells to grow out of control, which can lead to cancer. Usually several gene changes are needed before a cell becomes cancer.
Most cancers start because of gene mutations that happen sometime during a person’s lifetime. Sometimes these gene changes have an outside cause, such as exposure to sunlight or tobacco. But gene changes can also just be random events that sometimes happen inside a cell, without an obvious cause.
Cancer treatments are being developed to target the mutations that are driving the tumor’s growth. Targeted therapies attack the cancer cells by locating the mutations causing the abnormal growth.
Each cancer is unique. Molecular testing helps your doctor understand your cancer and provides important information on how to tailor the treatment specifically to you.