Humana Issues Positive Coverage Decision for NanoString’s Prosigna® Breast Cancer Assay

Excerpt:

“NanoString Technologies, Inc. (NASDAQ:NSTG), a provider of life science tools for translational research and molecular diagnostic products, today announced that Humana has issued a positive coverage decision for the Prosigna® Breast Cancer Gene Signature Assay. Humana and its more than 13 million members join other payors now covering Prosigna, collectively representing more than 175 million covered lives throughout the United States.

“This positive coverage decision is in line with updated ASCO guidelines released in February of 2016, wherein Prosigna is considered medically necessary to assess the necessity of adjuvant chemotherapy in ER-positive, HER2-negative, node-negative breast cancer patients, when adjuvant chemotherapy is not precluded due to any other factor.”

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A New Prognostic Classification May Help Clinical Decision-Making in Glioblastoma

Excerpt:

“New research shows that taking molecular variables into account will improve the prognostic classification of the lethal brain cancer called glioblastoma (GBM).

“The study was led by researchers at The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute (OSUCCC – James).

“Published in the journal JAMA Oncology, the study found that adding significant molecular biomarkers to the existing GBM classification system improves the prognostic classification of GBM patients who have been treated with radiation and the drug temozolomide.”

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How Precision Medicine Could Be A Lifesaver For Kids With Brain Cancer

Excerpt:

“A team of Dana-Farber scientists has released new research with an important message about precision medicine: Sequencing the genes of brain tumors in kids could point to treatments that target their genetic abnormalities and therefore have the best chance of being effective. At least one of those drugs is already on the market, Novartis’ Tafinlar (dabrafenib), approved by the FDA to treat other types of cancer but still readily available to pediatric oncologists who may want to try it in their patients.”

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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.”

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70-Gene Signature as an Aid to Treatment Decisions in Early-Stage Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“This was a randomized phase III trial including 6693 women with early-stage breast cancer designed to assess whether patients at high clinical risk (via Adjuvant! Online) and low genomic risk (via MammaPrint) would have similar metastasis-free survival if treated without chemotherapy. A total of 1550 patients (23.2%) were deemed to be at high clinical risk and low genomic risk. No significant difference in the 5-year metastasis-free survival rate was noted in women who received chemotherapy compared with those who did not (95.9% vs 94.7%).

“These findings suggest that nearly half of women at high clinical risk may not need chemotherapy for breast cancer.”

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New Research Takes Aim at Deadliest Form of Breast Cancer

Excerpt:

“Forget the pink ribbons. Spitting in a tube for science is what unites a growing group of breast cancer patients taking part in a unique project to advance treatment for the deadliest form of the disease.

“For many of the 150,000-plus patients nationwide whose tumors have spread to bones, brains, lungs or other distant organs, the hue heralding breast cancer awareness and survival each October is a little too rosy. They know cancer will likely kill them. And they’ve often felt neglected by mainstream advocacy and medical research.”

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Case for Liquid Biopsies Builds in Advanced Lung Cancer

Excerpt:

“For patients with advanced lung cancer, a non-invasive liquid biopsy may be a more effective and suitable alternative to the gold standard tissue biopsy to detect clinically relevant mutations and help guide their course of treatment, suggests a new study published this week in the journal Clinical Cancer Research from researchers at the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania(ACC).

“In patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) treated at Penn’s ACC, mutations detected from liquid biopsies (cell-free circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA) captured from blood) closely paralleled the mutations from tissue biopsies identified in next generation sequencing tests: EGRF, TP53, and ALK, to name a few. What’s more, in several cases, liquid biopsies captured clinically relevant mutations not found in tissue biopsies as patients’ disease progressed.”

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Testosterone-Related Genetic Mutation Leads to Deadlier Outcomes In Prostate Cancer

Excerpt:

“A team of Cleveland Clinic-Mayo Clinic researchers has shown for the first time that patients with advanced prostate cancer are more likely to die earlier from their disease if they carry a specific testosterone-related genetic abnormality.

“The findings, published in the September 2016 edition of The Lancet Oncology, suggest that a specific, inherited polymorphism, or inherited genetic change, in the HSD3B1 gene renders standard therapy for metastatic prostate cancer less effective. The researchers anticipate that the findings will lead to a simple blood test to detect the presence of the polymorphism, personalizing cancer treatment and indicating which patients may need more aggressive treatment.”

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Waiting for Cancer

Excerpt:

“With cancer, there are generally two scenarios – you either have it or you don’t. But I am somewhere in the middle, stuck inside a vortex. I don’t have cancer, but as a notable breast surgeon told me, ‘For you, it’s not a matter of if you’ll get it, but when.’ And so I find myself on permanent standby… just waiting.

“While many women at risk for cancer opt to have themselves tested for the BRCA gene mutation, which significantly increases one’s risk of developing breast, ovarian and pancreatic cancer, it’s not a test I would have chosen to take, given the absence of cancer in my family.

“My husband was adopted and wanted to learn more about his genetic makeup, so he selected an online genetics test, 23andMe, and out of curiosity, I decided to join him.”

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