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Penn Center for Personalized Diagnostics

Illustration of DNA helix under magnifying glass

Each cancer responds differently to treatment. Knowing the makeup of your cancer can help determine a better and more exact treatment.

Thanks to recent advances in genetic testing, genomic pathologists at Penn's Center for Personalized Diagnostics can now single out specific mutation signatures inside your or your loved one's cancer cells. 

Equipped with this information, our physicians can custom-tailor and personalize your treatment options, and avoid methods that may potentially be harmful. It all starts with a request for genetic testing.

The Treatments of Tomorrow are Being Designed at Penn Medicine Today

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Since the launch of operations in February 2013, the Center for Personalized Diagnostics has performed more than 10,000 advanced diagnostics on patients representing a wide range of cancers. Through cutting-edge and large-scale gene sequencing, we analyze enormous amounts of genetic data to find useful information that could dramatically change the course of treatment and improve outcomes for patients. Our progress is driven by transformational philanthropy and with your continued help, we’ll soon be able to transform the lives of every cancer patient.

What Is Personalized Diagnostics?

At the Center for Personalized Diagnostics, we understand that cancer is personal. But cancer is also personal on another level—all the way down to the level of your individual DNA.

Cancer derives its power to grow from the information contained in your cells' individual genetic sequences and any abnormalities that may appear there. These 'imperfections' at the DNA level instruct the cells to behave differently than normal, causing tumors to grow and thrive.

A genetic profile of cancer cells can show which of these precise and specific imperfections are driving a person's individual cancer.

Knowing these imperfections allows pathologists, scientists and oncologists to better understand the intricate ways our bodies react to different treatments.

In turn, this knowledge helps in finding treatment options that are customized and personalized for each individual patient.

Center for Personalized Diagnostics Patient Guide

Learn more about the benefits of genomic testing:

Download our patient guide and ask your doctor if personalized diagnostics is right for you.

How Does Personalized Diagnostics Work?

Rapid advances in computational power and biomedical informatics have made it possible to understand the genetic make-up of an individual tumor and compare it against the bank of scientific knowledge developed around the Human Genome Project, the Cancer Genome Atlas, and other research projects.

"Massively Parallel Sequencing" or next-generation sequencing tests allow researchers and oncologists to better understand the complete set of biochemical 'instructions' encoded in our DNA quickly and accurately—and then analyze this data for any changes to these 'instructions' that may be causing tumors to grow.

This test can reveal a genetic blueprint of your tumor that is as unique and detailed as a fingerprint

Having this personalized test information available means that researchers and oncologists at the CPD are shifting away from understanding the kind of cancer you may have by its physical location in the body and are instead moving toward a specific and detailed knowledge of the particular genetic make-up that characterizes your cancer.

These identifying characteristics of your tumor can help guide you and your oncologist toward the appropriate treatment options for your particular cancer and assist in finding the care that manages your cancer best.

Personalized Diagnostics for a Personalized Treatment

A personalized genomic diagnosis empowers you and your physician to custom-tailor and individualize your treatment options.

What's more, such a diagnostic approach can identify particular patients who might benefit from current therapies and participation in cutting-edge clinical trials, while sparing those who are not ideal candidates from the costs and potential side effects of those therapies.

Most important perhaps, it significantly reduces the time that conventional treatment approaches impose.

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