Cancer A-Z is designed to increase the understanding and treatment of cancer. Our aim is to help patients to feel informed and in control of their cancer experience and enable clinicians to connect with peers in order to provide a deeper level of care.
It has been created, developed and written by RGCC. Led by genetics pioneer Dr Ioannis Papasotiriou, RGCC is a world-leading provider of genetic cancer testing, research and development. From cutting-edge facilities in Europe, RGCC offers a range of personalised cancer genetics tests for doctors and patients designed to discover, analyse and screen cancer cells at every stage of the disease.
With Cancer A-Z, our hope is that by sharing our knowledge and expertise with a wider audience, patients will gain a better understanding of their cancer journey and clinicians will develop a deeper understanding of the diagnostic and therapeutic tools available.
Above all, we want to improve outcomes for cancer patients across the world.
RGCC is accredited and monitored for compliance by the International Accreditation Service (IAS) to ISO/IEC Standard 17025 for testing laboratories. You can view our certificate here.
All the information within our Cancer A-Z app has been reviewed by the medical experts at RGCC. You can find a full list of all sources in the Terminology section.
The main goal of RGCC tests is to discover, analyse and screen the cancer cells in every step of the disease. Our tests are designed to achieve three aims:
- Detect potential early signs of undetected cancers.
- Monitor existing diagnosed cancers.
- Produce personalised guidance on which chemotherapy drugs and natural treatments could benefit individual patients.
1. Types of tests
Liquid biopsy tests
Our liquid biopsy is a non-invasive blood test that requires no surgical intervention. It can detect circulating tumour cells and circulating free DNA in the blood. This has the potential to identify and diagnose certain forms of cancer, and can also be used to monitor a cancer’s progression.
Circulating tumour cell tests
These tests can detect circulating tumour cells. These are cells that have detached from the original tumour and passed into the blood, the lymph system, or another part of the body, with the potential to create a second tumour.
Researchers have made significant progress in detecting and isolating these cells, but circulating tumour cells tests are not yet 100% accurate.
Studies have found that in people with certain types of cancer – of the breast, prostate, pancreas, colon and skin – our test is 87% sensitive and 83% specific for circulating tumour cells (Papasotiriou I. et al, 2015). This means that our test will correctly return a positive result for 87% of the time, and will correctly return a negative result 83% of the time.
These tests can detect circulating free DNA. These are degraded fragments of DNA which the tumour releases into the bloodstream. Testing for circulating free DNA can reveal more accurate information about a tumour’s genetics and characteristics.
2. The science behind RGCC cancer tests
Cancer is caused by severely damaged genetic material, which leads to random genetic instability. Each person has a unique genetic fingerprint that is different from others. So each tumour behaves differently in each individual, which is why our highly personalised tests are effective.
One study found that in some groups of people with cancer, the proportion who will respond to chemotherapy treatment varies from five to eight in 100. (Royal North Shore Hospital ClinOncol (R Coll Radiol) 2005 Jun;17(4):294).
A tumour consists of several subsets of cells, each with different features. One of these subsets – called cancer stem cell-like cells, or tumour-initiating cells – drives how the disease progresses, whether a tumour is resistant to treatment, and the likelihood of relapse.
The aim of cancer treatment is to destroy cancer cells. When a patient is treated the majority of the cancer cells are destroyed, but some may still remain, in remission.
While a patient is in remission, the remaining cancer stem cells that survive treatment may spread to other parts of the body. So doctors need to detect, discover and explore the features of the remaining cancer stem cells. Our tests are used to detect in which cases the [remaining] cancer cells may respond to treatment. This is to reduce the risk of relapse, and have ways to treat these cancer cells in the future.
We partner with leading clinicians and healthcare providers across the globe to help share knowledge and improve outcomes for cancer patients. Our dedicated RGCC branch offices support doctors in 23 countries, including the USA, India, the UK, Japan and Australia, providing information, advice and resources that can be shared across your practice and directly with patients.
We foster a collaborative atmosphere, encouraging our network of global experts to share knowledge, increase peer understanding and empower one another to plug knowledge gaps. In doing so, our healthcare partners are able to make better informed decisions and enhance patient care.
The Cancer A-Z online booking facility will give Network members the chance to connect with patients and peers from across the world. Schedule peer-to-peer consultations with fellow RGCC Network doctors to increase your knowledge and understanding of RGCC tests in order to provide a deeper level of care for your patients.
We are proud to work closely individuals and organisations who are as passionate as we are about increasing their understanding of cancer care and improving outcomes for cancer patients. To find out how you can connect with the RGCC Network, please contact our head office.
Research and development
Research and development
In addition to clinical services, RGCC also works in research and development, to identify, produce and test potential drugs. We combine molecular biology and cytogenetic techniques – including microarrays, array comparative genomic hybridisation, ChIP, and fluorescence in situ hybridisation – to identify potential genes and proteins that can be targets for drug treatments.
If the drug target is located either outside the cell or in the cell membrane, RGCC’s cellular department is able to produce fully human monoclonal antibodies, and test the efficacy of the antibody with flow cytometry and viability assays.
For intracellular drug targets the RGCC combinatorial chemistry laboratory is able to design and validate in silico different candidate molecules.
The next steps include biochemical assays, which ensure the affinity of the product with the appropriate protein or gene. For small molecular weight targets, we use techniques like IC50 and the Lipinski rule of five before we proceed to further cellular assays. These include viability assays, as well as gene and protein analysis, to validate the products. Every step is controlled with different platforms to ensure the efficacy and reliability of each technique, and increase the chance of the product being a new candidate drug.