We use this innovative test to diagnose and classify certain cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, and to evaluate the risk of recurrence. We may also use flow cytometry as part of the stem cell transplantation process.
In this sophisticated technique, we measure properties of cells in a sample of bone marrow, lymph nodes, or blood. The sample is first treated with special antibodies and passed in front of a laser beam. If the antibodies attach to the cells, the cells will give off light. Looking for certain substances, or antigens, on the surface of cells helps us to identify the cell type.
Flow cytometry can also be used to measure the amount of DNA in cancer cells. In this case, the cells are treated with special light-sensitive dyes that react with DNA. For patients with breast, prostate or bladder cancer, an abnormal amount of DNA may indicate a recurrence.