Improving Cancer Treatment Decisions With Genomic Data

“Over the past several years, there’s been a lot of hype surrounding genetic testing and its potential for saving and improving lives.  But the key word is “potential.”  While many people believe that we’re at the dawn of a new era in medicine, it will be some time before genetic testing impacts most people’s lives through common interactions with their healthcare providers.

“One company attempting to bridge that gap is GenomeDx Biosciences.  The company’s flagship offering is the Decipher Prostate Cancer Test.  The test evaluates a sample from a prostate tumor for gene activity correlated with the development and progression of prostate cancer.  The expression levels of 22 RNA biomarkers are used to calculate the probability of the cancer reoccurring within 5 years of radical prostatectomy surgery.  The urologist who orders the test can then use that probability, combined with other clinical factors, to recommend further treatment or simply keep the patient under periodic observation.

“To evaluate the impact of the test on physician decision-making, GenomeDx partnered with university researchers and the National Research Council of Canada.  They conducted a study which concluded that when physicians were provided with data showing that patients were at a high genetic risk for recurrence of prostate cancer, recommendations for additional treatment increased by 16%.  When the data showed a low genetic risk for recurrence, recommendations to forgo additional treatment in favor of observation increased by 20%.”


Many Physicians Lack Confidence Interpreting Genomic Test Results

“Oncologists’ intentions to utilize multiplex genomic testing, as well as the confidence they feel interpreting test results and discussing them with patients, vary considerably, a study conducted at a tertiary-care NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center showed.

“The results suggest the need for genomic screening guidelines and physician education about genomic testing, researchers wrote.”

Editor’s note: More and more, doctors recommend cancer treatments based on genetic data, including the results of molecular tests. At Cancer Commons, we encourage patients to talk to their doctors about whether genetic testing can help with treatment decisions.


Many Physicians Lack Confidence Interpreting Genomic Test Results

“Oncologists’ intentions to utilize multiplex genomic testing, as well as the confidence they feel interpreting test results and discussing them with patients, vary considerably, a study conducted at a tertiary-care NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center showed.

“The results suggest the need for genomic screening guidelines and physician education about genomic testing, researchers wrote.”

Editor’s note: More and more, doctors recommend cancer treatments based on genetic data, including the results of molecular tests. At Cancer Commons, we encourage patients to talk to their doctors about whether genetic testing can help with treatment decisions.


Many Physicians Lack Confidence Interpreting Genomic Test Results

“Oncologists’ intentions to utilize multiplex genomic testing, as well as the confidence they feel interpreting test results and discussing them with patients, vary considerably, a study conducted at a tertiary-care NCI-designated comprehensive cancer center showed.

“The results suggest the need for genomic screening guidelines and physician education about genomic testing, researchers wrote.”

Editor’s note: More and more, doctors recommend cancer treatments based on genetic data, including the results of molecular tests. At Cancer Commons, we encourage patients to talk to their doctors about whether genetic testing can help with treatment decisions.


Researchers Intensify Efforts to Solve Mysteries of Exceptional Responders

“Exceptional responders — those patients with cancer who demonstrate sustained benefit from a therapy on which almost all others fail — have been observed in clinical trials for decades.

“ ‘This is the basis of the urban legend story that everyone has heard — someone was given 2 months to live, but was given a drug and had a miraculous recovery,’ William C. Hahn, MD, PhD, chief of the division of molecular cellular oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told HemOnc Today.

“Because of recent strides in genomic sequencing, however, the phenomenon has evolved from a series of unexplained individual success stories into a collection of tremendously valuable case studies.”


Researchers Intensify Efforts to Solve Mysteries of Exceptional Responders

“Exceptional responders — those patients with cancer who demonstrate sustained benefit from a therapy on which almost all others fail — have been observed in clinical trials for decades.

“ ‘This is the basis of the urban legend story that everyone has heard — someone was given 2 months to live, but was given a drug and had a miraculous recovery,’ William C. Hahn, MD, PhD, chief of the division of molecular cellular oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told HemOnc Today.

“Because of recent strides in genomic sequencing, however, the phenomenon has evolved from a series of unexplained individual success stories into a collection of tremendously valuable case studies.”


Researchers Intensify Efforts to Solve Mysteries of Exceptional Responders

“Exceptional responders — those patients with cancer who demonstrate sustained benefit from a therapy on which almost all others fail — have been observed in clinical trials for decades.

“ ‘This is the basis of the urban legend story that everyone has heard — someone was given 2 months to live, but was given a drug and had a miraculous recovery,’ William C. Hahn, MD, PhD, chief of the division of molecular cellular oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, told HemOnc Today.

“Because of recent strides in genomic sequencing, however, the phenomenon has evolved from a series of unexplained individual success stories into a collection of tremendously valuable case studies.”


Video: Marty Tenenbaum Speaks at Microsoft Research

Cancer Commons founder Marty Tenenbaum, PhD, recently visited Microsoft’s Richmond, CA, office to give a presentation entitled “How to Beat Cancer.”

Because of “a convergence of recent developments in genomics, big data informatics, social networks, and personalized medicine that is transforming the landscape of cancer research and treatment,” Marty says, “we are now on the threshold of being able to give each individual the knowledge, resources, and tools needed to successfully treat the one disease that matters most to them.”

Watch the complete presentation at the Microsoft Research site.


Boston Research Institutes, Hospitals Launch Clinical Genomics Center

“A quartet of Boston-area research centers including Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, and the Broad Institute have teamed to create a new clinical cancer genomics center that will be headquartered at Dana-Farber. Dana-Farber said today that the new Joint Center for Cancer Precision Medicine will harness a wide range of scientific resources and clinical capabilities from the partners to treat cancer patients and feed treatment data into research programs. The multiple capabilities these partners will share and use in the new center include DNA sequencing and other tumor molecular profiling tools, pathology, radiology, surgery, computational interpretation, and tumor modeling systems, they said.”