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Flow cytometry is the standard test to look for Measurable (Minimal) Residual Disease (MRD) in CLL and it can find one cancer cell in 10,000 by looking at the telltale combination of surface markers that are found on CLL cells but not on normal cells.
Many labs can perform this test and provide reliable and extremely helpful results.
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) looks for specific gene sequences that are found only in the cancer cells and nowhere else. It can find one blood cancer cell in a million. The only FDA-approved and Medicare-covered NGS test for chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients is clonoSEQ.
Now one can have the blood drawn for clonoSEQ at the ubiquitous Labcorp sites around the country, making it much easier for many patients to access this important lab test.
The role of MRD testing is well established in research and is becoming increasingly helpful in the clinic. Data from several trials suggest that reaching uMRD (undetectable measurable residual disease) may be more significant than being in complete remission in determining how well CLL patients will do and for how long. And there is reason to believe that the deeper the look, the better the prognostic value, hence the value of NGS testing.
For more background explaining the importance of MRD testing, please visit the MRD section of our website.
Here is the official press release: Adaptive Biotechnologies Expands Collaboration with Labcorp to Increase Access to Growing Research and Clinical Diagnostic Portfolio.
Stay strong. We are all in this together.
Brian Koffman MDCM (retired) MS Ed
Co-Founder, Executive VP and Chief Medical Officer
CLL Society, Inc.