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Cancer Treatment

The Vital Role of Laboratory Services in Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Posted: August 2, 2023


CCNW’s mission is rooted in integrated care. An essential part of this is CCNW’s lab department, with 70% of clinical decisions, including diagnosis and treatment of disease, depending on laboratory testing results.

Cancer patients frequently need lab services throughout their cancer treatment. Prior to a diagnosis, patients typically require some sort of blood draw. Their physician can use these results and other diagnostic testing such as imaging to determine their patient’s diagnosis. During treatment, patients typically have laboratory testing done to ensure that they are healthy enough to receive their treatment and to verify that a treatment is working. Once a patient is done with treatment, laboratory testing is performed over time to verify the patient’s remission.

In collaboration with trusted local laboratories, CCNW offers patients a comprehensive list of cancer blood and tissue tests that detect:

  • Your blood cells - A complete blood count (CBC) measures the amount of each type of blood cell in a sample of your blood.
  • Your blood proteins - A blood test looks at the various proteins in your blood to find the ones produced by your body's immune system.
  • Chemicals made by cancer cells - Tumor marker tests use a sample of blood to look for chemicals made by cancer cells, which are typically used after diagnosis to see if treatment is working. An example of a tumor marker test is prostate-specific antigen (PSA) for prostate cancer.
  • Cancer cells – Generally used after a cancer diagnosis, circulating tumor cell tests detect cancer cells in your blood.
  • Cancer cells’ genetic material - These tests use a blood sample to look for small pieces of cancer cells' DNA. Healthy cells and cancer cells break apart as part of the natural process of growing and dying. These pieces of cells enter your bloodstream so that the body can dispose of them. Special tests look for these cell pieces in a sample of blood.

All of these advanced laboratory tests are ordered by CCNW’s providers and sent out from the three main laboratory locations (North, South, and Valley), with each site performing up to 100 patient draws per day and averaging around 50-60 per day.