What to Expect From Genomic Testing

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The methods for genomic testing have really evolved over these years. At the beginning, the very first testing was usually on a specific gene. So we weren't so clever at testing lots of different genomic alterations at once. Now we've changed so that we can do what we call next-generation sequencing. So we're able to look at hundreds of genes within the tumor. And so that helps us understand, again, if there are these specific alterations that could be targetable.

Getting genomic testing can happen in one of two ways. It can happen off the tumor tissue or it can happen off the blood. And so we usually do request that tumor tissue get sent for genomic testing. We're very fortunate. At Dana Farber, there is a genomic testing platform that our institution can run, and so that can happen at our own institution. At other institutions that may not have the capacity to do it in-house, there are lots of commercial labs that can do this, where it can be sent to that lab and the testing can be done. So the oncologist can just order that and get those results. For many commercial companies, the turnaround time is usually around three weeks to get results from the time that they receive tumor tissue. For blood, the turnaround time is usually around 14 days for most commercial labs. So it's not too long before you get your results back.