The diagnostic laboratory tests the tumor material of cancer patients. The primary goal is to make the correct diagnosis (Is the tumor benign or malicious? What exactly is it?). In addition, specific (molecular) tests can also help predict which therapies may be successful during the course of treatment.
For leukemia patients, the tests mainly involve analyzing blood and bone marrow and, for patients with brain tumors and other solid tumors, analyzing tissue samples. Various types of tests are carried out, including:
In cytological and histological testing, cells are colored and examined under the microscope either 'loosely' (cytology) or as part of a tissue sample (histology). These testing methods facilitate the identification of abnormal (cancer) cells.
Flow cytometry (for blood and bone marrow) and immunohistochemistry (for tissue) are additional tests. Both technologies use antibodies that can stain specific proteins in cells. The staining provides a more detailed picture of the cells, which can help to further specify the diagnosis.
These days, all manner of molecular technologies are used to identify abnormalities in the genetic material (DNA) of tumor cells. These abnormalities help to diagnose the type of cancer, but increasingly they are also useful when predicting whether certain therapies (so-called 'target' therapies) have a chance of succeeding.
For many of the technologies identified above, employees collaborate closely with diagnostic departments within UMC Utrecht (LTI, Pathology and Genetics).
In addition to performing diagnostics, the laboratory is closely involved with the center's scientific research. The laboratory facilitates scientific research, for example, by optimally processing patient material and storing it in the biobank. In addition, the laboratory employees are directly involved in diverse research projects. The goal is not only to stimulate scientific research, but also to apply the research quickly in daily practice.