More Information on Chemosensitivity Testing

Ampule and syringe.

Photo courtesy of stock.xchng

Further to my post of August 14, 2012 about chemosensitivity testing, I found a company that does chemosensitivity testing here in the USA.

The name of the company is Rational Therapeutics.  On July 13, 2011, Dr Robert Nagourney wrote an article titled “Why I Do Chemosensitivity Testing“.

Because chemotherapy is so toxic, it makes sense that prior to undergoing a barrage of chemotherapy drugs, you find out which ones will be more effective against your particular cancer (because everybody is different) and chemosensitivity testing does this.

What impressed me about Rational Therapeutics was that they seem to use techniques which other laboratories do not use.

According to their website: “At Rational Therapeutics, we do not grow, subculture or propagate cells in the lab. Tumor cells are kept in clusters (microspheroids) that mimic the body’s environment. By examining cells in their native state, we take a snapshot of their behavior in response to drugs and combinations of drugs. These microspheroids reflect the complex elements of the body’s cellular environment, which has proven critical for the accurate prediction of clinical response.

“This is a significant advance over earlier methods where tumor cells were isolated and grown in the lab. These types of tests do not accurately reflect tumor response to drug treatments within the body.

“We adhere to three absolute principles of accurate assay analysis:

  1. Measure cell death, not the inhibition of growth.
  2. Never grow cells. We do not grow, propagate or subculture cells. We maintain them in their native state.
  3. Preserve the ecology of cancer biology by preserving cell-to-cell interaction.  We maintain stromal, vascular and inflammatory cells that contribute to drug response.”

If your oncologist doesn’t know about chemosensitivity testing, it might be worthwhile having him check out Rational Therapeutics, 750 E. 29th Street, Long Beach, CA 90806, 562.989.6455, 800.542.HELP (4357).

I receive no kick-back or payment of any kind from this company, I just like to keep my readers informed of companies that are doing good work on behalf of cancer patients.  This kind of targeted therapy makes a lot of sense to me.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  

If You Are Contemplating Chemotherapy, You Should Know About the Chemosensitivity Test

chemo drugsHere in America, if you are contemplating chemotherapy, you may or may not be offered the chemosensitivity test.

In Germany, chemosensitivity tests are routinely conducted in order to determine which chemotherapy drugs should be utilized for a specific cancer patient.

Because some tumors may resist certain chemotherapy treatments, some oncologists are choosing to test tumor cells in advance of treatment rather than prescribe a standard chemotherapy combination without knowing whether it would be effective for your particular tumor.

Tailor-Made Treatment

The tests, called chemotherapy sensitivity and resistance assays (CSRAs) are relatively new  and are carried out for many types of cancer.

The CSRA is a laboratory test that is done on a single cell in a test tube (in vitro) or on a clump of tumor cells (in vivo), usually taken from a biopsy tissue sample.  The test assesses how many cancer cells are killed by a particular drug, or by a combination of drugs, and how many cancer cells are unaffected by the treatment.

When your oncologist examines these test results, he/she can then treat you more effectively, knowing which chemo drugs your cells respond to.  Two more added benefits are that you don’t lose any time being blasted with drugs that don’t work for you and you don’t have to be debilitated by the side effects of drugs that won’t kill your cancer.

There Are 5 Qualifying Factors

As of writing this article, I am aware of 5 qualifying factors before you will be considered for a chemosensitivity test.

  1. You have to find an oncologist that will order the test
  2. You need to be strong enough to undergo chemotherapy
  3. You need to have access to a lab or facility that does the assay
  4. You must have a solid or fluid tumor
  5. You must be willing to undergo a new biopsy to get a fresh tissue sample for testing

Insurance Companies and Clinical Trial Results – Two More Problems

Not all insurance companies will cover the cost of the chemosensitivity test, which as close as I could tell runs around $800.  Aetna Insurance considers chemosensitivity assays “experimental and investigational because there is insufficient evidence that these assays influence management decisions such that clinical outcomes are improved.”  I guess Germany doesn’t count.

It appears that independent clinical trials are still underway here in America and because of that this test is not standard, and it will not be offered to every patient until doctors are convinced of its accuracy and value.

It’s Just My Opinion, But…

If the chemosensitivity test assists oncologists to tailor make a chemo regimen that is going to be the most effective for our specific cancer, why wouldn’t the insurance companies pay for this?  It could conceivably lead to less chemo treatments and a patient who is actually ALIVE at the end of the treatment regimen (as opposed to one who won’t be paying any more insurance premiums due to being 6 feet under!).

I think that if toxic chemotherapy is going to continue to be the standard of care (which many consider outdated and prehistoric) they need to step up the clinical trials and get these results back as quickly as they can so that ALL can be given these tests and ensure they have the best response rate to the chemotherapy drugs and the greatest chance at beating cancer.

Finally, take 7 minutes out of your busy day and watch this interesting You Tube video – Burton Goldberg interviews Professor Michael Geising, a German Molecular Oncologist from Munster, Germany.  Dr Geising advises “only 15-20% of chemotherapies are successful. The other 80% not only don’t work, but 60% of them actually make the cancer more aggressive by allowing it to develop resistance mechanisms.”

Research strongly suggests that when patients receive the most effective treatment, matched to their cancer profile, they survive longer.  Ask your oncologist about the chemosensitivity test.  In fact, insist on it.


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Useful Chemotherapy Side Effects Worksheet

bald womanThe American Cancer Society has put together a terrifically useful Chemotherapy Side Effects Worksheet which I have attached here (just click the blue link below).

Chemo Side Effects worksheet

What I liked about it was that if you keep it handy, you can take note of anything odd or troublesome AS IT HAPPENS because trust me – if you don’t write it down, you can easily forget about it when the doctor asks how you’re doing at your next visit.  They don’t call it “chemobrain” for nothing. So print out the Chemotherapy Side Effects Worksheet and keep it nearby for easy reference.

I will keep it on my Useful Links page as well, just in case you need another copy.

By the way, if you’re having problems with constipation, here’s a link to my recent blog where I share my favorite herbal (it helped me a lot!).

If you have any questions or need any help, you can contact me.

If you’d like to stay connected, sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook ( and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey.


Ways to Combat Acid Reflux While on Chemotherapy

Ways to Combat Acid Reflux While on Chemotherapy

Image source: / Ohmega1982

Ways to Combat Acid Reflux While on Chemotherapy

Acid reflux can be a real problem – especially when you’re going through chemotherapy.  It is often one of the side effects of the chemotherapy drugs.  Here’s what you can do about it.

Be Proactive with your Diet

Eat a balanced diet that is rich in alkaline forming foods and low in acidic foods.  Foods can be either acid forming, balancing or alkaline forming.  Since our body’s normal PH is between 6.0 and 6.8 (we are mildly acidic), values above 6.8 are considered to be on the alkaline side and values below 6.3 are on the acidic side.  For a list of specific acid/alkaline foods, click here.

Too much acidity is definitely something you want to avoid right now – in fact too much acidity in the body can be one of the factors that lead to cancer and should always be avoided.  But especially right now, when you’re going through chemotherapy, the foods you want to focus on are the alkaline forming foods.

Alkaline Foods

Avocados, dates, fresh coconut, fresh fruits, fresh vegetables, herbs, herb teas, honey, molasses, raisins, sea vegetables, seeds, whole organic soy products, whey, yogurt.  Low-level alkaline foods to be included in your diet are almonds, buckwheat, lima beans, quinoa and organic dairy products.

Neutral Foods

All vegetable oils, sprouts, most dried beans and sunflower seeds.

Acid Foods

This is the list to be avoided: alcohol, artichokes, asparagus tips, aspirin, beans, beef, beer, cakes, canned fruits, cheese, chicken, cocoa, coffee, doughnuts, eggs, fish, flour, flour products, ketchup, jams/jellies, legumes, macaroni, mayonnaise, meat, mustard, noodles, oatmeal, olives, pasta, pastries, peanuts, pepper, plums, poultry, prunes, sauerkraut, shellfish, soft drinks, spaghetti, sugar, tea, tobacco, vinegar, white rice.  Sounds like not much is left, doesn’t it?

Tips & Tricks

Here’s what you do – eat a diet that is about 70% alkaline forming foods and 30% acid forming foods.  You can have small quantities of the things you love then – maybe just have them around lunch time so that your body isn’t trying to digest them at night when you’re lying down (part of what causes acid reflux).

I know this is hard, but if you want to get well and start feeling better, the quality of the food you put into your body is ULTRA important.

One more thing – here’s something that helped me immensely.  Put a single drop of a therapeutic grade peppermint essential oil into a glass of water.  Sip on the water all day.  Peppermint essential oil is so calming and soothing to the digestive tract.  Just make sure you get a good quality oil, something without other chemicals added.

Juicing is another way to help you feel better quickly. See some of my posts on Juicing. I truly hope this helps you on your road to wellness.

See also my article on Ultimate Diet & Nutrition While Undergoing Chemotherapy and Radiation.

I send my love to everyone taking this journey right now. If you would like my help with getting through breast cancer in an inspiring and ultra-healthy way, please sign up for my free e-newsletters on the right, or “like” me on Facebook (Marnie Clark, Breast Health Coach) and I’ll do my utmost to keep you informed and empowered on your healing journey… and beyond.  


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