How Your Personal Treatment Plan is Developed

Gene sequencing and the study of tumor genes is not new to Swedish or to the Ivy Center for Advanced Brain Tumor Treatment at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute, which has been mapping brain-tumor genes since 2009. What is new at the Swedish Cancer Institute is a step-by-step approach that expands the use of gene sequencing to benefit more patients with cancer.

There are five steps involved with gene sequencing at the Swedish Cancer Institute.

Step 1. Discuss Options

During your first visit, your cancer specialist will talk with you about gene sequencing of your cancer cells and how it may affect your care.

Step 2. Collect a Tissue Sample

CellNetix needs a small tissue sample in order to run the gene-sequencing tests. Sometimes the tissue sample is collected through a biopsy, which is usually an outpatient procedure. Or, the tissue sample may be collected as part of a surgery to remove or reduce the size of the tumor.

The tissue sample is preserved and sent to CellNetix for testing.

Step 3. Sequence the Genes

Pathologists at CellNetix use high-tech equipment to pull out the DNA and identify the tumor’s genomic fingerprint and gene abnormalities. They also collect additional information about the tumor using a variety of other tests.

Step 4. Analyze the Test Results

Pathologists compare the gene-sequencing information from your tissue sample to information from other patients, which is contained in existing databases. They look for similar gene abnormalities and the treatments that have worked well on those particular abnormalities.

In about 10-14 days, the pathologist sends your cancer specialist a report that lists treatments and therapies that have been effective with other patients who have the same or similar cell abnormalities. The report also references any clinical trials of investigational treatments that might be appropriate. Because the Swedish Cancer Institute is one of the leading sites on the West Coast for clinical trials, cancer specialists are participating in more than 100 studies of new drugs, therapies or procedures at any given time. This gives patients access to many treatments that may not be available elsewhere.

Step 5. Personalize Treatment

Your cancer specialist evaluates the report, along with your medical and family history, drug tolerance and surgical limitations, and personalizes a treatment plan — just for you.