Specialized Cancer Testing Available at Integrative
Dr. Lawren Chan | Minute Read
Our Integrative oncology program offers naturopathic alternative and adjunct treatment options that involve diet/lifestyle modifications, supplements, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine including acupuncture, physical medicine, mental/emotional counselling, IV therapies, as well as specialized cancer testing. Research Genetic Cancer Center (RGCC) serves patients seeking effective personalized and integrated treatments by providing clinicians with the most-up-to-date cancer detection and monitoring tests. RGCC was founded in 2004 and Integrative has been utilizing their tests for many years now. RGCC testing is used in 3 main ways:
- To detect early signs of developing cancer
- To help monitor and track existing cancer
- To provide chemotherapeutic and natural treatment options based on individual responsiveness
What makes RGCC different is that they focus on circulating tumour cells (CTCs). These are cells that have detached from the primary tumour site and are flowing through the blood or lymph. CTCs are capable of creating a secondary tumour and causing metastasis. These cells can give an indication of the presence of cancer and its progression. RGCC uses fluid based methods which are 86.7% sensitive and 83.3% specific. The sensitivity of a test is the true positive rate in malignant cases, and the specificity is the true negative rate in benign cases. Conventionally, tumour markers such as CA-125, CA15-3, CA19-9, CEA, PSA are tested and tracked to look for, help diagnose/stage, predict prognosis/treatment efficacy/recurrence, and track the progress of cancer. These tumour markers on their own are known to be have variable reliability, so having additional testing methods is highly valuable.
Determining the presence and concentration of CTCs can be used to identify the origin of the primary tumour, help track, follow up, detect early relapse, and predict the likelihood of cancer recurrence and metastasis. These CTCs can then be cultured in the RGCC lab and tested against different cytotoxic drugs, targeted therapies and natural substances to determine which therapeutic agent will be most effective against a person’s own cancer cells. Typically chemotherapeutic agents are picked based on standard of care and statistical analysis of large treatment trials, however it is well known that each malignancy behaves differently in each individual based on our different genetic makeup. This chemosensitivity testing provides information on which drugs and natural substances demonstrate the best response and therefore the best treatment outcomes.