In This Section


Cancer biomarkers hold major implications for developing effective treatment plans and tracking treatment over time. The following terms may aid the multidisciplinary team in applying biomarker information in treatment decisions.


Acquired Resistance

Cancer that initially responded to treatment but after time subsequently progresses.1

Actionable Mutation

A genetic abnormality present in a tumor that can inform specific treatment decisions.36

Basket Trial

A type of clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of a new drug among patients with different cancer types but the same genetic mutation or biomarker. 1

Also called: Bucket trial

Biological Therapy

A treatment that uses living organisms, substances derived from living organisms, or laboratory-produced versions of such substances to treat disease. In oncology, this includes immunotherapies, some targeted therapies, cellular therapies, and cancer vaccines.1

Also called: Biological response modifier (BRM) therapy, Biotherapy


A type of therapy that uses substances to suppress or stimulate a body’s immune system to fight cancer. An example of a biomarker targeted by immunotherapy (i.e., immune checkpoint inhibitor) is PD-1/PD-L1. 1

Monoclonal Antibody

A lab-made protein that can bind to specific substances in the body, including cancer cells, and can be used to carry drugs, toxins, or radioactive substances directly to cancer cells.1

Targeted Therapies

Therapeutics that are directed against specific targets found in/on cancer cells that may benefit from less harm to normal cells.1

Targetable Alteration

A genetic abnormality present in a tumor that can be targeted by a specific therapy/therapies.36

Tissue-Agnostic Therapy

A type of targeted therapy that uses drugs or other substances to treat cancer based on its genetic or molecular features, regardless of cancer type.1

Also called: Tumor-agnostic therapy

Small-Molecule Inhibitor

A targeted therapy using a substance with a low molecular weight which can enter a cell to disrupt certain cellular pathways. An example of a small molecule inhibitor is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) which works by blocking the action of enzymes called tyrosine kinases, which play a role in cancer cell growth.1

Umbrella Trial

A type of clinical trial that tests the effectiveness of a new drug among patients with the same cancer types but different genetic mutations or biomarkers. 1



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logo-abbvie-200x80 AstraZeneca_200x80 This project is supported by AbbVie, AstraZeneca, Lilly Oncology, and Merck & Co., Inc. BMS-330x80 Phase one of this project was supported by Bristol Myers Squibb.