Molecular Testing Laboratory

A molecular testing lab is one of the many behind-the-scenes benefits for patients in the Sentara Cancer Network. Having an in-house molecular laboratory, staffed by a board-certified Molecular Genetic Pathologist, allows critical test results to be made available quickly.

The future of cancer medicine appears to be heavily reliant on the genetics of the person and their cancer. With so much complexity and numerous subtypes within types of cancer, having molecular information can be extremely helpful. With nearly 70 percent of medical decisions based on lab results, it’s important to have a state-of-the-art lab to assist with cancer care.

As the laboratory technology advances, other health care providers may need to send their samples to a lab out of state, across the country or many hours away, while the Sentara Lab allows for quicker, coordinated care.

The implementation of Next Generation Molecular Sequencing will allow the lab to analyze in parallel multiple genes in support of diagnosis and treatment recommendations. The technology will improve turnaround time and decrease costs compared with traditional sequencing methods.

At the tissue repository, the tissue removed for diagnosis is preserved in a block of paraffin. Should the patient ever need additional tests, the tissue is readily available. The Sentara Histology Lab has preserved the tissue of thousands of patients dating back to the 1980s. While this can benefit the patient who provided the tissue, it could also be used for research into the particular disease states in a retrospective study, preserving patient anonymity and potentially benefiting future oncology patients.