Cancer has a reputation as a silent killer. Despite the many advancements in the medical field, cancer remains elusive and tough to foresee and cure. Medical and lab testing in oncology have gone so far as to diagnose the malignancy and mitigate or treat the consequences once the disease is confirmed. While cancers with a hereditary strain are easy to predict through preventive molecular diagnostics backed by genetic science, the causes of certain types of cancers are yet to be known.

Constant developments in molecular and genetic science and technology in oncology research have resulted in newer anticancer therapies, such as targeted therapy, to replace traditional chemotherapeutics in treating numerous forms of cancer. Further research is expanding the treatment options almost every few years. Given the rapid improvements in biotechnology, therapy development is also inclined towards harnessing natural resources or compounds and utilising them as a potential cure for cancer. 

Helvetica Health Care (HHC), offers a wide range of lab testing products which set high standards in the field of molecular diagnostics used in anti-cancer therapy. In this article we give you more information on the principles of anticancer therapies that determine treatment plans and the role of molecular diagnostics in laboratories for cancer detection.

Principles of anticancer therapy 

Fundamentally, anticancer therapy is intended to predict the likely course of the tumour’s development so that appropriate action can be taken. Because each case differs, anticancer therapy should be evaluated for each patient after considering all peculiarities involved.

Treating cancer is a delicate and long journey and starts with a process called disease staging. Following a cancer diagnosis, a series of investigations are carried out to assess the characteristics of the tumour tissue (grade and stage), the extent of the spread of disease in the patient’s body, and the evaluation of the disease state. Accurate staging is crucial in classifying the tumour and informs surgeons, oncologists, and healthcare providers about treatment options, planning decisions and estimating disease prognosis. 

Prognosis and evaluation of the potential risks are also identified in staging, which can determine the need for standard approaches or participation in clinical trials. The choice of therapy also depends on individual factors. A comprehensive assessment of the patient’s general health, age, preferences, beliefs, quality of life, nutritional status, social support, and mental health is performed. This assessment helps make informed decisions influencing therapy options and the ability of the patient to tolerate therapy.

Therapy determination requires the setting of a general therapeutic goal. Anticancer therapies must aim to cure, control or prolong the patient’s survival or the palliation of symptoms and to prevent complications. If the patient’s disease status changes, the goal may have to be re-examined. The goal also justifies the side effects of the treatment, whether temporary or permanent.

Anticancer therapies often involve

  • curative treatment,
  • adjuvant treatment and/or neoadjuvant treatment and 
  • palliative and symptomatological treatment

Curative treatments, as the name suggests, are intended to cure the patient by complete excision of the tumour (through surgery) and aim at recovery. Some curative therapies are intensive and can result in total remission of the disease. However, despite total remission, there are often chances of a relapse. Hence, curative treatment may become palliative in nature. 

While surgery continues to be the primary curative therapy, many associated treatments have emerged over the past few decades. The combined methods and techniques that are most adopted in human oncology are surgery and/or chemotherapy and/or radiotherapy, cryotherapy and immunotherapy.

Adjuvant therapy assists more complex treatments or impedes undesirable development (recurrences, metastases) while participating in concurrent, preferably curative polytherapy. Adjuvant treatment commences post the primary curative therapy (usually surgery).

Neoadjuvant therapy is administered “before” the primary tumour is removed, eliminating probable systemic damage.

Palliative treatment, on the other hand, is not aimed at recovery but only improves symptomatology and/or helps to prolong life while offering a chance to live a healthy life.

Sometimes curative treatments produce a palliative effect, but never the other way around.

Treatment planning requires a multidisciplinary approach that may need to be applied throughout the cancer treatment process. An integrated team approach enables medical and allied health care specialists to weigh all appropriate treatment alternatives and design a unique treatment plan for the individual.

Anticancer treatment modalities

Fortunately, today several anticancer therapies can destroy cancer cells and assist patients in recovering from this serious disease. Patients can be suggested a combination of these therapeutic options based on the treatment goal and plan.

Today, oncology has the following modalities.

  • Surgery
  • Radiotherapy
  • Chemotherapy (combined with hormone therapy)
  • Antineoplastic drugs
  • Biological and molecular targeted therapies (which are supportive treatments)
  • Nano Therapy
  • Gene Therapy
  • Hormonal Therapy
  • Immunotherapy 

Advanced molecular diagnostics is proving to be the cornerstone of neoplastic disease identification. Molecular or genetic testing enables the detection of high-risk families and evaluating each family member’s cancer risk. It is possible to assess most genes linked to hereditary cancer problems by commercially available sequencing panels for hereditary ovarian and breast cancers. Apart from this, genetic testing is highly effective in defining risks for cystic fibrosis, melanoma and chronic myeloid leukemia. Molecular diagnostics can also detect biomarkers that indicate the efficacy of specific treatments.

The EXTERNAL RUN CONTROLS, NAT controls, panels and serology controls supplied by HHC are designed to validate your molecular testing. Using these external controls we help you create confidence in lab testing procedures and while promising consistent molecular results. Many of our controls are CE / IVD. The use of external controls is highly recommended under ISO15189:2012, as they provide an independent verification that the molecular assay is working correctly and thus their use provides an assessment of quality.  

Our products offer better patient safety, promise quality outcomes, and confirm the competence of medical laboratories by customers, regulating authorities and accreditation bodies competence. Some controls have been developed in collaboration with leading platform manufacturers to optimise concentration levels in line with the particular platform.

Contact us to find a suitable control to validate your molecular lab testing applications.