For Patients

Cancer arises, in part, due to DNA mutations in critical human genes. Testing your tumor for mutations is best done by an assay that analyzes the sequence of many genes all at the same time, with high accuracy. At UT Southwestern this is done by a new technology called next generation sequencing, or NGS, that has become standard of care for personalized cancer management. Once identified, an increasing number of mutations can now be treated with scientifically designed, FDA-approved drugs or qualify a patient for enrollment into local, regional or national clinical trials. In some cancers, particularly melanoma and a few lung tumors, the number of mutations can predict whether newly developed immunotherapies, which look activate your immune system to attack your tumor, will be effective. Thus, options other than surgery, radiation or traditional chemotherapy may now be available depending on the results of this test.

The Department of Pathology at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas provides testing of 1,425 cancer-related genes in a single next generation sequencing test. Testing can be done on blood or bone marrow specimens or tissue previously collected by your oncologist or surgeon for your initial cancer diagnosis. At the same time, we also determine your DNA sequence in normal DNA obtained from saliva or blood. We do this to establish which changes seen in the tumor's DNA are truly different from your normal sequence. There is no extra charge for this additional and important testing. Your referring physician will determine whether testing is appropriate for you and initiate collection of the optimal specimens. Prior to starting the testing we will contact your insurance company for preauthorization to proceed with this laboratory test. We will also get your written consent concerning whether you wish to be made aware of mutations that may be found in your normal DNA or if you are willing to allow us to use your data or DNA samples for research. This information will be fully protected. Once we receive the specimen in the lab, results will be reported to your oncologist in about 3 weeks.

UT Southwestern is one of only 50 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the US. This designation by the National Cancer Institute acknowledges that UT Southwestern provides superior and cutting edge clinical care and state-of-the-art research to better understand cancer and what causes it. The knowledge created here fuels innovative ways medicine approaches cancer management. The UT Southwestern Molecular Pathology faculty work together and with other staff to provide a cancer mutation report that incorporates the most recent available data, protocols and recommendations for cancer therapeutics.