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When Is Mutation Testing Done?

The timing and type of testing in lung cancer is always a decision a healthcare team makes based on each patient's specific situation. Generally speaking, biomarker testing is something an oncology team will do as early as possible, as part of a complete diagnosis.

Initial mutation testing (at diagnosis)

When NSCLC is diagnosed, mutation testing is used to identify specific mutations that would make the tumour more or less sensitive to certain treatments.

Automatic, or reflex, testing of lung cancer tissue for biomarkers is often done at diagnosis. This type of testing helps speed up the process.

Patients with NSCLC may get certain benefits from targeted therapies compared to chemotherapy based on the results of the mutation testing.

Subsequent mutation testing (at disease progression)

If NCSLC progresses while a patient is undergoing treatment, mutation testing is used to look for changes in the cancer that have made it resistant to specific treatments. Finding a resistance mutation, such as EGFR T790M, can help with the next treatment decision. To learn more about how mutation testing is done for EGFR T790M and other mutations, please see the section "How is mutation testing done?"