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Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH) for PIK3CA is a molecular diagnostic test that identifies amplifications or mutations in the PIK3CA gene in tissue samples, typically tumor tissue. The PIK3CA gene encodes for the p110α protein, a subunit of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K). PI3K is part of an essential signaling pathway in cells, known as the PI3K/AKT/mTOR pathway, which is involved in cell growth, proliferation, differentiation, motility, survival, and intracellular trafficking. Aberrations in this gene are implicated in various cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, and lung cancer.

The PIK3CA gene is an oncogene. Oncogenes are genes that have the potential to cause cancer. In normal cells, PIK3CA plays a role in cellular signaling that is essential for various cell functions. However, when the PIK3CA gene is mutated or amplified, it can lead to an overactive PI3K/AKT/mTOR signaling pathway, contributing to tumor growth and survival.

Identifying whether a tumor has amplifications or mutations in the PIK3CA gene can be crucial for diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment decisions. For instance, tumors with PIK3CA mutations may be more aggressive or less responsive to certain therapies, and targeted therapies aimed specifically at inhibiting the PI3K pathway might be more effective for these tumors.

The FISH technique involves using fluorescent probes that bind to the PIK3CA gene. Under a fluorescence microscope, technicians can visualize and count the number of PIK3CA signals in the cell's nucleus. This information can be used to determine if there is an amplification or abnormality in the PIK3CA gene.

  • Targeted Therapy: Knowing the status of the PIK3CA gene can help oncologists make more informed treatment decisions. For instance, PIK3CA-mutated tumors might be candidates for targeted therapies such as PI3K inhibitors.
  • Prognostic Value: The presence of PIK3CA mutations or amplification might be associated with a worse prognosis in certain types of cancer.
  • Predictive Value: PIK3CA status may predict the tumor's response to specific treatments, including both standard chemotherapy and targeted therapies.

  • Test NameFISH for PIK3CA
  • Sample TypeTissue
  • Preparations RequiredNo specific patient preparation is required.
  • Report Time8 days

Who should consider taking this test?

Patients diagnosed with cancer, especially breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or lung cancer, may benefit from the FISH for PIK3CA test as it can provide information that helps in making treatment decisions.

Is any preparation needed before the test?

There is no special preparation needed for the patient. The test is performed on tissue that has been previously biopsied – usually as part of the diagnostic process.

Home Sample Collection Process

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Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Sample Collection by Phlebotomist
Reporting of the sample at lab
Reporting of the sample at lab
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Frequently Asked Questions

A positive result indicates that there is an amplification or mutation in the PIK3CA gene. This information can be used to guide therapy decisions.

A negative result suggests that there is no amplification or detectable mutation in the PIK3CA gene in the analyzed cells.

As the test is usually performed on previously biopsied tissue, there are no additional risks associated with the test itself.

Interpreting the results of a FISH test for PIK3CA should be done in consultation with an oncologist, who will consider these results along with other clinical and diagnostic information.

No, this test is not used for cancer screening. It is used to characterize the properties of a tumor that has already been diagnosed.

Yes, the test can help predict the likely response of the tumor to certain therapies, especially those targeting the PI3K pathway.

FISH allows for the visualization of the PIK3CA gene within the cells, whereas other tests such as PCR or next-generation sequencing are used to detect mutations without visualizing them.

Some limitations include: it only detects abnormalities in the PIK3CA gene, so it may not provide a complete picture of the genetics of the tumor; it may not detect all types of mutations; and it requires specialized equipment and expertise.

FISH for PIK3CA is an essential tool in oncology, helping physicians make informed decisions regarding cancer treatment. By identifying mutations or amplifications in the PIK3CA gene, oncologists can use targeted therapies that specifically address these genetic abnormalities. However, it is important to interpret the results in the context of other clinical and diagnostic information, and in consultation with an oncologist.

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