Diagnostics in oncology

Guiding key decisions across every journey—enabling more personalised care
As our understanding of cancer evolves, we continue to explore innovative ways to improve the lives of patients along their entire journey
The second leading cause of mortality—a first priority¹

A cancer diagnosis is very personal, but its impact can be far-reaching. Cancer is responsible for approximately one in six deaths,1 with approximately 70% of cases occurring in low- and middle-income countries.2 Genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors, as well as certain infectious diseases, are notable factors associated with increased risk of cancer.2

The disease begins with a disruption in the tightly-regulated cycle of cell replication. Changes within a single cell (damage to its DNA, for example) can affect its ability to repair itself or self-destruct. Uncontrolled replication can result in a build-up of cells called a tumour. If malignant, this mass may continue to grow, invade other parts of the body or spread to other organs.2

The global burden of cancer is incalculable

Totalling $80.2 billion in the US alone in 2015, the direct medical costs of cancer are significant but they only tell part of the story.3 The life-altering impact of cancer extends beyond the individual, affecting immediate and extended family, friends, colleagues, employers and others.

Globally, the incidence of cancer-related deaths is rising. However, this is due largely to an aging and growing population. If caught early, survival rates of many people living with cancer improve. Many cancers are not detected early enough in their development to significantly impact survival, often due to limited screening.1,4 If current trends continue, the World Health Organization (WHO) predicts a 60% rise in cancer cases globally over the next two decades.2 Low- and middle-income countries project an 81% increase in cancer-related mortality.4 Regardless of economic standing, delays in treatment caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to further impact cancer-related mortality.

Access to timely, accurate testing, quality treatment, and follow-up care is essential for survival rates to improve,4 and to give patients the best chance to spend less time (or no time) in the hospital.

For both patients and clinicians, diagnostics are more than the diagnosis

Diagnostics impact almost all key decision along the patient journey

To an individual, news of a cancer diagnosis can be life-shattering but from this diagnosis emerges a pathway forward. Recent years have shown notable progress in our abilities to manage disease—from early prevention to decisions about treatment and disease management. In addition, evolving tools help clinicians to gain rich insights into individual patients, and seamlessly consult colleagues anywhere in the world. For patients, diagnostics guide nearly every important decision, before, during and after therapy to give them the best opportunity for a healthy life:

As some cancers are more likely to develop under certain criteria, evaluation programmes help people understand if they are predisposed to, or at heightened risk of, disease.

With a physical exam, an analysis of health history, and testing, specific types of cancer can be identified before signs or symptoms appear.

Typically, a tissue sample is collected during a procedure called a biopsy which will then be tested to determine the presence of cancer and whether it has spread.

If cancer is confirmed, additional testing can help doctors decide on a treatment plan, potentially including tests for biomarkers (biological signals that indicate disease) to help personalise treatment.

Regular check-ups are important for determining the effectiveness of therapy and mitigating the long-term complications associated with cancer therapy.

As care for people with cancer does not end when active treatment does, doctors will monitor a patient’s overall health to check for recurrent cancers or to manage any side effects.

Transforming the patient experience, from innovation to outcome

Oncology care teams leverage diagnostic insights to inform timely, confident, and personalised treatment decisions

Our understandings of the underlying biology of cancer and the genomic characteristics of individual tumours have increased dramatically. Similar progress has revolutionised the tools we use to analyse patient data. Today, these insights are transforming the way cancer is viewed, diagnosed, and treated, enabling more personalised patient care through targeted therapeutics.

With insufficient tissue specimen available or if a person is too sick to undergo surgery, a less invasivecan aid in diagnosing and managing a patient.

Companion diagnostic tests are validated to provide information that is essential for the safe and effective use of a corresponding drug or biological product.

Able to identify the presence and/or quantity of patient biomarkers to help stratify patients into distinct populations, helping clinicians decide on a tailored treatment.

Streamlineto allow clinicians to keep up with the latest information, spend more time reviewing patient cases, and possibly initiate treatment earlier.

Sequencing uncovers the underlying genetic driver of a cancer, enabling oncologists to find a treatment specifically designed to target the genomic alteration.

Innovation is in our DNA

Empowering laboratories to meet the growing demand for testing

As the incidence of cancer grows and more testing is required, laboratories face pressure to adapt and evolve. Across testing disciplines—molecular, sequencing, immunochemistry, imaging, tissue, and digital diagnostics—Roche’s comprehensive ecosystem of solutions ensure laboratories and healthcare professionals have the tools they need to give patients the care they deserve.

In 2019 we launched a powerful clinical decision support solution. It enables annotation, clinical interpretation and reporting of next-generation sequencing (NGS) tests, and features two innovative apps that provide access to relevant clinical trial information and treatment options based on an individual patient’s genomic alterations.

We offer a comprehensive portfolio with three clinically validated tests to help identify women at risk of cervical cancer and improve detection and confirmation of high-grade disease in a single round of screening.

Additionally, through the Roche Global Access Program, we support cervical cancer prevention in countries with the greatest need by providing easy access to affordable high-quality diagnostic solutions. Explore our

For some people, finding the most appropriate treatment requires a next-level solution. Next-generation sequencing can map out an individual’s full genetic makeup, tumour mutations, and other defining molecular features to help find the most appropriate treatment.

Women with triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC) now have renewed hope with our companion diagnostic test that aids in identifying women eligible for a Roche immunotherapy therapeutic.

We are continuing to invest in this non-invasive sample collection method to help patients overcome complications of a traditional biopsy. Liquid biopsy plays an increasing role in tracking how a cancer evolves over time, allowing treatment to be adjusted accordingly.


  1. World Health Organisation.Accessed December 21, 2020.

  2. World Health Organisation.Accessed December 21, 2020.

  3. cancer.org.Accessed December 21, 2020.

  4. World Health Organisation.Accessed December 21, 2020.

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