The word “biomarker” can refer to many different compounds in the body that indicate something about your health. When people talk about cancer biomarkers, they’re usually referring to proteins, genes, and other molecules that affect how cancer cells grow, multiply, die, and respond to treatment. While some cancer biomarkers can be used to predict how aggressively your cancer will grow, and are therefore useful for determining your prognosis (outlook), the most promising use of biomarkers today is to identify which therapies are most likely to target the cancer cells in your tumor. By using molecular profiling to detect specific biomarkers in your tumor, doctors can save time by choosing the most effective therapy for you.
When a sample from your tumor undergoes molecular profiling, your oncologist receives a report that lists the genetic and molecular biomarkers that make up your tumor. This unique information can help your oncologist personalize your treatment plan by predicting which treatments your cancer is likely to respond to.