If you have not found your condition in the list, it doesn’t mean that there exists no treatment option. It may just mean that your illness can not be categorized. So let’s start at the beginning.
Cancer is characterized by abnormal cell growth with the ability to invade or spread to other parts of the body. A neoplasm or also called a tumour is a group of cells that have undergone unregulated growth and may form a mass, but can also be distributed diffusely throughout the body.
Tumour cells show a number of characteristics, including abnormal cell growth and division absence of programmed cell death, high number of cell divisions, promoting of blood vessel formation, invasion of tissue and metastasis.
Preventive check-ups are crucial to detect cancer as early as possible.
When abnormalities are found, GPs, naturopaths or the patients themselves contact us for a second opinion or a general consultation about treatment possibilities. Often, we are asked to perform certain blood tests (at specialized laboratories) to determine the number of circulating tumor cells. It is known, that these tests have their limitations too. The cells are stained with a certain antibody e.g. EpCAM in order to count the number of vital tumour cells. But in case the tumour is EpCAM-negative, determining (EpCAM-positive) cancer cells will not be possible, leading to a false readout. So these tests may only be interesting for certain tumour types and are usually used for treatment response monitoring, after the diagnosis of cancer has been confirmed, and tumour characteristics have been identified. Once you know the (genetic) characteristics of your tumour, a specific test to count circulating tumour cells (CTCs) can be designed.
One important step in cancer diagnosis is a PET-CT-Scan, which helps to see whether and where tumor masses are located. It shows us whether the cancer has already spread to other tissues (metastasis). If a mass has been confirmed, it should be biopsied in order to determine the dignity of the tumor. A histopathological analysis can determine the exact (cell) type of the tumor. There are many different types of tumors, and each of them presents unique genetic characteristics.
Important: What most patients do not know is, that when the first examination on the biopsy has been performed (to determine the tumor type), the tissue is kept and stored at the histopathology department of the hospital, where the biopsy has been performed. This stored tissue material can be used for thorough (genetic) tissue analyses and in-depth sequencing at the Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic. It is known that tumors show the accumulation of several genetic modifications, thus providing cancer cells with the selective growth advantage to initiate expansion. Now, sophisticated high-throughput technologies enable the identification of these mutated genes in cancers that can lead to a potent targeted therapy.
It is important to know what your options are. In our experience, many laboratories offer genetic tumor analyses. But there are differences and limitations specific for every tumor analysis. When patients show their tumor analysis report to the medical team at the Hallwang Clinic, we often notice that, due to the country-specific regulations, only the markers and mutations known in the home country, are tested. This is because many drugs are not approved everywhere, or even not available in the patients country, or just available in trials. Thus not every therapeutically relevant mutation is tested. And then it can happen that patients are told by their physicians that i.e. a specific immunotherapy does not make sense in their case, even though their tumor tissue has not been thoroughly analyzed. Often, the physicians simply do not have access to the therapies due to country-specific regulations. So it is most important to first find a laboratory that looks for all markers and mutations, and second, to find an oncologist who is willing to work with you in the best (and targeted) way possible.
Our aim is to carefully and thoroughly analyze your tumor tissue - We do know that e.g. some GI cancer patients or head and neck tumor patients are positive for a marker that is usually found in breast cancer patients. As the targeted therapy for this marker is only approved for breast cancer patients, it is often not analyzed in tumor tissues of patients with other cancer types, possibly missing an important treatment target in these patients. It is crucial to perform a thorough broad-spectrum screening so that the patient has a chance to explore all possibilities of a targeted treatment, may it be in a private setting or a clinical trial elsewhere.
At the Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic, we are able to provide the following tests on your tumor tissue:
- Genomic profiling
- Analysis for tumor-associated-antigens (TAA-Screening)
- Analysis of DNA-repair/break-chain mechanism
- Analysis of tumor mutational burden / immune predict
In some cases, should the biopsy taken no longer be sufficient to perform a comprehensive genomic profiling, and a new tissue biopsy is too hard on the patient (as it is painful, or even potentially risky for the patient), a non-invasive method - a liquid biopsy to determine for mutations and markers can be performed. It is still not fully established and comparable to analyses on the specimen itself, but it opens new doors and possibilities for patients in need.
At the Hallwang Private Oncology Clinic, our focus is on individualized treatment concepts for all patients, based on the specific information that we retrieve from in-depth diagnostic tumor tests. These tests provide information on surface markers and individual mutations presented by the patient’s tumor cells. Identification of these markers, mutations, translocations, amplifications, etc. allows us to specifically target them through a broad range of therapeutic options – depending on the outcome. You have to look at the tumor itself to understand what targeted treatment the patient needs. A treatment that might work for one cancer patient does not necessarily work for another patient, even though they have both the “same“ type of cancer.
Based on the data that were determined by the analysis, the next step is to consider whether and what kind of therapy could or should be used.
Please note that there are so many different therapeutic options and protocols available, and one needs to decide for an option or protocol that fits with the general condition, test results (if/once available), ongoing treatments and past medical history, as well as the duration and recommended repetition.
“You are unique, and so is your treatment”
Step 1 : Contact us
Important: Our oncological team is happy to talk to you by phone to get a deeper understanding about your specific case, enabling to provide you with a provisional treatment plan and cost estimate. Our oncologists will provide you all the details on medications, therapeutics and treatments including underlying mechanism and side effects. After a physical examination and an in-depth discussion with you on-site, the definite treatment plan will be discussed. Please understand that complex medical processes as mentioned above can only be explained through a thorough consultation on-site.