DNA strand and Cancer Cell to visualize cancer genetics
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Preliminary data from a survey of patients with breast cancer conducted in five European countries by Cancer Patients Europe’s (CPE) Cancer my Concern (myC) initiative found that four-in-five patients eligible for genomic testing are not told it is available to them. Further, despite the proven utility of such testing for guiding personalized treatments, 59% of breast cancer patients had never heard about such testing options.

“The data show there is an urgent need to raise awareness and understanding of the value of genomic testing in breast cancer across Europe, amongst medical professionals, patients, policy makers and payers,” said Fatima Cardoso, member of the myC Survey Advisory Committee and director of the Breast Unit, Champalimaud Clinical Center, Lisbon, Portugal. “Genomic testing has proven its value with high evidence, and it is also cost-effective. However, it is not reimbursed nor easily available in many European countries.”

Genomic testing has shown it can aid in a number of treatment decisions made by clinicians including therapy selection and whether some patients will benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Identifying specific markers of the disease to suggest targeted therapies have the benefit of sparing a subset of patients from the harmful, toxic side effects of chemotherapy.

The survey results suggest a gap in the information provided to patients throughout their cancer journey that could be provided by their physicians, who survey respondents noted would be their preferred source of such information. Surveyed patients indicated that specific types of information they would like to receive include their type of cancer, additional testing, treatment options and long-term treatment effects.

“The results of the survey bring to light some shocking truths in the treatment and management of cancer patients across Europe,” said Conchi Biurrun, board secretary, CPE. “Cancer Patients Europe is dedicated to accelerating discussions with policymakers and other key stakeholders to raise awareness of genomic testing and ensure its implementation into routine clinical practice to help determine whether patients should undergo chemotherapy.”

The myC Patient Survey in Genomics in Breast Cancer, which received support from molecular diagnostics company Exact Sciences, was was completed by a total of 1,383 patients in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. Other significant findings of the survey include:

  • 83% of respondents were breast cancer patients, 50% of whom were eligible for genomic testing;
  • 84% of eligible patients stated they did not have enough information to make a decision on whether to take a genomic test; and
  • Only 25% of eligible patients took a genomic test.

Cancer Patients Europe created the myC initiative to raise awareness of the benefits and values of genomic testing in cancer. The association’s mission is to provide a balanced representation of cancer patients and their experiences across Europe, bridging the gap between European and national practice implementation and reducing the burden of cancer on patients and survivors, their caregivers, healthcare systems, and society as a whole.

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