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Chemosensitivity: Test driving your chemotherapy

Doctors have a new ally to deal with cases of cancer patients who have two or more possible treatments: the chemosensitivity test.

This is a laboratory test that measures the number of tumor cells that a certain cancer drug eliminates. The test is done after the tumor cells are collected from the patient’s body. These cells are then cultured under strictly controlled conditions and then exposed to different kinds of anti-tumoral drugs. A chemosensitivity test can help you choose the best option or the best combination of cancer drugs for a specific patient’s case.

This procedure is very well capable of avoiding the frustration derived from the failure of chemotherapy agents and by identifying the most effective approach to a specific patient’s case. It can also help avoid the occurrence of harsh and unnecessary side effects by ruling out treatments which are not optimal in each specific case.

An excellent example of this kind of test was described by the research TAILORx on breast cancer, as presented in a recent ASCO Meeting. [1] The German Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG) concluded that, among the genomic tests available, only Oncotype Dxha has enough data to be used in the choice about the use of chemotherapy. A similar judgment was expressed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) in updating its guidelines.

Despite all of this evidence, this kind of test is not covered by many of the national healthcare systems in the world.

Endowed with state-of-the-art technology, Chemosensitivity Laboratories are, however, spear-heading the field of biotechnology and chemosensitivity testing, to provide further information that enhances a cancer specialist’s ability to choose the most appropriate therapy for each individual patient. Key to the development is a unique machine that analyzes both tissues and each cell individually. A pioneer in this biotech area is American chemist Peter Andreotti. [2]

Of course, Oncology has very clear guidelines to treat each cancer, however, this technique is very useful to solve special situations.

There are some tumors in which there is more than one possible initial treatment; where one will serve the patient more than the other. In other cases, the tumor is so advanced that many treatments do not work and the best option should be further sought.

Analyzing cases of patients with triple negative breast cancer, for example, is very difficult to approach due to the limited options of treatment and the fact that cancer cells do not interact with hormone receptors. In particular, this is an area where scientists are looking at possible better treatment options and outcomes thanks to this test.

At Verita Life Clinics, this biotech test allows us to really be tougher on the Cancer and easier on the patient with no more blind spots when it comes down to selecting the right drug or combination of drugs. Our weaponry is more accurately aimed at the specific weaknesses of personal cancerous cells while we also work on improving the patient’s overall physical, psychological and nutritional health.

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  1. NCI Press Release. TAILORx trial finds most women with early breast cancer do not benefit from chemotherapy. Posted: June 3, 2018
  2. Andreotti, Peter E., Cree, Ian A., Kurbacher, Christian M., Hartmann, D. M., Linder, D., Harel, G., Gleiberman, I., Caruso, Phillip A., Ricks, Sharon H., Untch, M., Sartori, C. and Bruckner, Howard W. Experimental Therapeutics. Chemosensitivity Testing of Human Tumors Using a Microplate Adenosine Triphosphate Luminescence Assay: Clinical Correlation for Cisplatin Resistance of Ovarian Carcinoma. DOI: Published November 1995

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