One Patient, Two Cancer DNA Tests, Two Different Results

Excerpt:

“A couple years ago, Sibel Blau, an oncologist outside of Seattle, was working with the company Guardant Health to test their novel ‘liquid biopsies’ in patients. The idea behind liquid biopsies is both elegant and promising. A doctor takes a blood sample from a patient, and then Guardant looks for tumor DNA floating in the blood, allowing doctors to identify the tumor’s unique mutations and offer a personalized drug regimen—all without an invasive tissue biopsy. Blau was excited to be on board.

“When that study wrapped up, Blau still had Guardant test kits left over, so she offered some to her patients at no cost to them. At this point, Blau was routinely ordering DNA sequencing of traditional tissue biopsies, so some patients got both tests. The tissue DNA test from Foundation Medicine was “routine” in her practice, but even that test had only become available in 2012. The field of cancer DNA has been changing fast.”

Go to full article.

If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our ASK Cancer Commons service.


Should We Sequence the DNA of Every Cancer Patient?

Excerpt:

“A startup called Strata Oncology says it plans to give away advanced genetic tests to 100,000 patients struggling with cancer. But there’s a profit motive: it hopes to identify patients with specific rare DNA errors and steer them to drug companies.

“Strata, which was founded last year and has raised $12 million from investors, says it is set up to run 50,000 next-generation sequencing tests a year. Such tests probe the DNA of tumor tissue, searching for mutations in hundreds of genes at once, hoping to surface clues about what drug a patient should be taking.

“Similar tests are already offered commercially to doctors by several companies, including Foundation Medicine of Cambridge, Massachusetts, and can cost $5,000 each.”

Go to full article.

Do you have questions about this story? Let us know in a comment below. If you’re wondering whether this story applies to your own cancer case or a loved one’s, we invite you to use our Ask Cancer Commons service.


Tumor Sequencing Study Highlights Benefits of Profiling Healthy Tissue as Well

“As the practice of genetically profiling patient tumors for clinical treatment decision making becomes more commonplace, a recent study from The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center suggests that profiling normal DNA also provides an important opportunity to identify inherited mutations that could be critical for patients and their families.

“Preliminary findings from this ongoing study will be presented by Funda Meric-Bernstam, M.D., professor and chair, Investigational Cancer Therapeutics, on June 1 at the American Society for Clinical Oncology 2015 Annual Meeting in Chicago.

“The MD Anderson research team sequenced tumor and normal DNA from patients with advanced cancer, with the goal of sharing results with patients to better educate them going forward. Sequencing normal tissue is not routinely done in the research environment, but comparing tumor versus normal DNA can distinguish between germline, or inherited, mutations and those found only in the tumor.”


Cancer Genome Sequencing Will Mean More Targeted Therapies

“As the cost of DNA sequencing plummets, the possibility of testing all cancer patients’ tumor genomes is becoming a reality. For just $1000 or so, a doctor might submit most any malignant specimen for a complete genetic work-up. The sample might be a core needle biopsy taken from a breast, a blood sample from a person with leukemia, or a snippet of a sarcoma removed in an operating room. In principle, checking a tumor for genetic changes should be straightforward, do-able.

“But most cancer patients undergo surgery and other treatment long before their doctors consider sending a biopsy for full molecular evaluation. A recent published survey among oncologists at two prestigious Boston teaching hospitals suggests that a significant proportion of specialists have a low level of confidence about their knowledge of cancer genomics. Aside from some kinds of lymphoma and leukemia, some lung cancers and a few other malignancies, examining cancer cells for genetic mutations is not routine in oncology practice.

“ ‘Genomic testing of cancer cells seems like it should be available to all patients,’ said Lori Marx-Rubiner. At age 48, she’s carried a diagnosis of metastatic breast cancer for five years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and teenage son, and blogs about her condition at Regrounding. Recently she took the helm at Metavivor, a non-profit organization that advocates for research in metastatic disease.

“ ‘Now I learn as much as possible about my condition and treatment options,’ she said. Marx-Rubiner, who holds a master’s degree in social work, participates in scientific meetings and advocates for research in metastatic disease. Most of her treatments so far have been selected to interfere with hormone signaling. That’s because her biopsy – evaluated with old pathology methods when she received her initial, stage 2 diagnosis back in 2002 – showed high levels of estrogen receptors in the tumor cells.”

Learn more about personalized medicine.


Molecular Tumor Board Helps in Advanced Cancer Cases

With accelerating development of personalized cancer treatments matched to a patient’s DNA sequencing, proponents say frontline physicians increasingly need help to maneuver through the complex genomic landscape to find the most effective, individualized therapy.

Editor’s note: Learn more about personalized medicine and molecular (genetic) testing on our website.


Molecular Tumor Board Helps in Advanced Cancer Cases

With accelerating development of personalized cancer treatments matched to a patient’s DNA sequencing, proponents say frontline physicians increasingly need help to maneuver through the complex genomic landscape to find the most effective, individualized therapy.

Editor’s note: Learn more about personalized medicine and molecular (genetic) testing on our website.


Molecular Tumor Board Helps in Advanced Cancer Cases

With accelerating development of personalized cancer treatments matched to a patient’s DNA sequencing, proponents say frontline physicians increasingly need help to maneuver through the complex genomic landscape to find the most effective, individualized therapy.

Editor’s note: Learn more about personalized medicine and molecular (genetic) testing on our website.


Revolutionary Clinical Trial Aims to Advance Lung Cancer Treatment Thanks to Cancer Research UK and Pharma Partnership

“Cancer Research UK is partnering with pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer to create a pioneering clinical trial for patients with advanced lung cancer – marking a new era of research into personalised medicines to treat cancer.

“The ‘National Lung Matrix’ trial – scheduled to open later this year at centres across the UK – will give researchers unprecedented access to libraries of drugs developed by AstraZeneca and Pfizer, allowing several to be tested at the same time, within one trial.

“Researchers will use the genetics of each lung tumour to identify small groups of patients who, because of the specific genetic changes causing their cancer, are more likely to benefit from a certain drug.”

Editor’s note: Genetics and DNA testing are increasingly used to provide patients with personalized cancer treatments. Learn more about personalized approaches to lung cancer.


Cancer ‘Miracle’ Patients Studied Anew for Disease Clues

“The history of oncology is rife with reports of patients with advanced cancer who staged miraculous recoveries.

“Now scientists are starting to use sophisticated DNA sequencing technology to determine if these “exceptional responders” carry gene variations that can lead to new treatment approaches, better targeted therapies or even the re-emergence of experimental drugs once deemed failures.

“The mystery surrounding Jan Crisitello, a 70-year-old grandmother of four, is a case in point. Five years ago, 29 patients with advanced melanoma enrolled in a trial of a drug under development by Pfizer Inc. (PFE) Only one, Crisitello, came away with her cancer in remission. Now, she is being studied to see how her unique genome may have interacted with the drug to spur her recovery.”

Editor’s note: To learn more about personalized medicine, click here.