Cancer is often caused by one or more genes in your body that have changed. There are different types of abnormal gene changes or defects that can cause CCA. Some of these changes include:
Over time, advances in technology have given healthcare professionals the ability to look very closely into the tumor to identify specific gene changes or defects. This kind of detailed tumor study is called molecular profiling. As scientists and healthcare professionals continue to study tumors, new gene changes or defects are being discovered every day.
Genetics and genomics are two terms you might come across as you look for information about CCA. While these words sound similar, they mean different things:
Your healthcare team may be able to use molecular profiling to identify the specific genomic mutations unique to your tumor. This information can help them develop a care plan for your unique CCA.
Since molecular testing can provide information that may help direct the way your disease is managed, the Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation recommends testing as early as possible. For this reason, you should talk to your oncologist about molecular profiling as early as possible after your diagnosis, ideally before a biopsy is performed. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) recommends consideration of molecular profiling when the tumor cannot be removed by surgery or when the cancer is metastatic, meaning it has spread to other parts of the body.*
However, even if some time has passed since your diagnosis, it may not be too late to talk to your oncologist about molecular profiling.
*Referenced with permission from the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) for Hepatobiliary Cancers V.3.2019. © National Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. 2019. All rights reserved. Accessed September 23, 2019. To view the most recent and complete version of the guideline, go online to NCCN.org. NCCN makes no warranties of any kind whatsoever regarding their content, use or application and disclaims any responsibility for their application or use in any way.
Molecular profiling can help you better understand your cancer and have productive conversations with your oncologist.
Here are some questions you may want to ask your oncologist:
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The latest technology—called next-generation sequencing (NGS)—has made molecular profiling more comprehensive.
It can test one tumor sample for hundreds of gene changes or defects at one time.
If your oncologist performed a biopsy, but did not order molecular profiling, it may not be too late. An additional biopsy may be needed to provide enough tissue for molecular profiling. Talk to your oncologist and ask if molecular profiling is still possible.