“The current guidelines for genetic testing of breast cancer patients limit the number of women who can get tested. Because of these restrictions, these tests miss as many patients with hereditary cancers as they find, according to a study published Monday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.
” ‘Unfortunately, insurance companies pay attention to these guidelines,’ said Dr. Peter Beitsch, co-author of the study and a cancer surgeon practicing in Texas. Insurance companies and other payers reimburse genetic testing — or not — based on the guidelines.”
“New research by investigators at the University of California, San Francisco and the Children’s National Health System, has provided early evidence that liquid biopsy testing could help doctors monitor how well treatments are working in kids with diffuse midline gliomas.
“Brain cancers present a challenge for longitudinal monitoring, because obtaining repeat biopsy samples is dangerous and difficult. But liquid biopsy techniques have now opened the possibility of tracking these and other tumors over time based on analysis of tumor genetic material that is shed into the blood or other body fluids.”
“The use of genetic tests aimed at detecting the presence of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes in women with breast cancer is rapidly declining in favor of tests that can detect multiple cancer-associated mutations, according to researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine and five other U.S. medical centers.
“Some researchers had wondered whether multigene testing, which may identify genetic mutations of uncertain clinical significance, would lead more women to consider prophylactic mastectomies — a surgery in which both breasts are removed to prevent future cancers — out of an abundance of caution. However, the current study did not show an increase in mastectomies associated with testing more genes.”
Diagnosis of adenocarcinoma of the lung, a major subtype of non-small lung cancer (NSCLC), nowadays triggers mandatory testing of tumor tissue for alterations in four genes: EGFR, ALK, ROS1, and more recently, BRAF. If present, these alterations predict sensitivity to specific targeted drugs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that work better and often longer than standard chemotherapy, and are better tolerated.
However, there are many more targetable/actionable genomic alterations (also known as “drivers”) in NSCLC. This blog post will briefly discuss most of them, with the goal of promoting molecular testing for more than the four “usual suspects” mentioned above. Some patients with these alterations may benefit from FDA-approved drugs or from enrollment in clinical trials that are testing additional drugs and drug combinations. Continue reading…
“People diagnosed with cancer understandably reach for the very best that medical science has to offer. That motivation is increasingly driving people to ask to have the DNA of their tumors sequenced. And while that’s useful for some malignancies, the hype of precision medicine for cancer is getting far ahead of the facts.
“It’s easy to understand why that’s the case. When you hear stories about the use of DNA sequencing to create individualized cancer treatment, chances are they are uplifting stories. Like that of Ben Stern.”
“To date, there have been few recommendations to guide physicians about when to offer men genetic consultation for prostate cancer risk. Now, an international and inter-specialty panel of experts convened at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center (SKCC) at Thomas Jefferson University have developed a comprehensive set of recommendations. This consensus statement, published December 13th in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, will help physicians and stakeholders make sense of a rapidly evolving field of practice.”
“U.S. regulators have approved a first-of-a-kind test that looks for mutations in hundreds of cancer genes at once, giving a more complete picture of what’s driving a patient’s tumor and aiding efforts to match treatments to those flaws.
“The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Foundation Medicine’s test for patients with advanced or widely spread cancers, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services proposed covering it.
“The dual decisions, announced late Thursday, will make tumor-gene profiling available to far more cancer patients than the few who get it now and will lead more insurers to cover it.”
“The 2017 Philadelphia Prostate Cancer International Consensus was recently held at the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center of Thomas Jefferson University. The theme of this year’s meeting was The Role Of Genetic Testing For Inherited Prostate Cancer Risk.
” ‘Genetics is the way of the future for patients with prostate cancer,’ said steering committee co-chair Daniel Petrylak, MD.
“In an interview with OncLive at the meeting, Petrylak, professor of Medicine and Urology, co-director, Signal Transduction Research Program, Yale School of Medicine, discussed the significance of genetics in the future of prostate cancer care and highlighted emerging treatments and challenges in the field.”
“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.”