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We perform Functional Profiling, a laboratory technique that measures how cancer cells respond when exposed to a variety of drugs and drug combinations.

Functional Profiling is more powerful than genomic testing that most centers offer. 

This approach reduces the guesswork from drug selection to find the most effective, least toxic options.  Results only take 7 days.


You and your doctor can then use this information to guide your treatment.

Personal Cancer Testing

Each cancer patient is unique and their response to therapy is very different from one person to the next.

Drugs that work for one patient may not work for another, even if both patients carry exactly the same diagnosis. This is why each patient should be tested to select the most effective and least toxic drug regimen for them prior to initiating treatment.

When patients are treated without testing, the treating physicians must rely on general guidelines and protocols that cannot capture each patient's unique features. Standardized, trial-and-error approaches cannot individualize treatment to meet each patient's needs.

Are all cancer tests the same?  

Today, many centers offer genomic (molecular/DNA) tests that examine gene mutations but these tests, with rare exceptions, cannot identify drugs that will actually work for your cancer.

The Nagourney Cancer Institute’s functional profiling analysis (our Ex Vivo Analysis of Programmed Cell Death assay) pioneered the use of patient-derived, living cancer cell studies to determine the most effective and least toxic options for you.

We can test most types of cancers, solid and hematologic (blood).

To find the most effective treatment for you, living tumor cells are collected during biopsy or surgery.  Therefore, it's important to call us before your biopsy or surgery so we can obtain a sample to analyze.

We can also test fluid accumulations from the lung (pleural effusion) or abdomen (ascites) if they contain enough cancer cells.  Also, if you have leukemia, lymphoma, or myeloma, we can often use a blood or bone marrow specimen.

For more information on how to get your cancer cells tested, call our office at 800-542-4357

Samples are sent to us from all over the US and internationally.  Since the test involves living cancer cells, the samples must arrive within 24-36 hours.

Click here for our Specimen Processing Requirements. (PDF)

Once your sample is received in our laboratory, results are generally available within 7 days.  

Why Functional Profiling When I Already Have A Cancer Diagnosis?

There are several reasons why someone may want to get functional profiling on their cancer after already being diagnosed.


The main reasons include:


To identify more-specific treatment options: Functional profiling measures how your cancers will respond to drugs and combinations by exposing your cells to these drugs in the test tube. (We do not do gene profiles) can help identify specific genetic mutations or abnormalities in a person's cancer cells. This information can be used to tailor treatment options to the individual patient remove potentially leading to more effective, personalized treatment.


Predicting treatment response: Functional profiling can also help predict how a patient will respond to certain treatments. This can helps doctors select the most appropriate treatment options and avoid treatments that are unlikely to be effective.


Identify additional options if treatment stops working: Because functional profiling can examine many drugs and combinations at the same time using a single tumor sample, your doctor need not guess what to use for second or third-line therapy


To identify clinical trials: Functional profiling can examine experimental agents and combinations helping patients identify the clinical trials that may be suitable for a patient based on the responsiveness of their cancer. This can provide patients with access to novel treatments and therapies that may not be available otherwise.


Overall, functional profiling can provide valuable information that can help guide cancer treatment and improve patient outcomes.

Pipetting Samples

Our Difference

We use functional profiling which is different than genomic testing and is a “real-time” analysis of how your cancer cells actually respond when exposed to various treatment options.

Genomic testing looks for mutations and other changes in your gene makeup that might guide drug selection.  Although the concept is appealing, in reality, a minority of patients have genetic changes that can be used for therapy.

Functional profiling is a laboratory technique pioneered by Dr. Robert Nagourney and his team at the Nagourney Cancer Institute, that measures how cancer cells respond when they are exposed to drugs and drug combinations. 

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