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June 10, 2022

How oncologists differ in the ways they're using biomarker testing

According to the American Cancer Society, 235,760 Americans will be diagnosed with lung cancer this year, and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) will account for about 85% of those cases.1 To help guide patient treatment options, the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) published guidelines recommending that all people with advanced nonsquamous NSCLC undergo biomarker testing. This type of testing identifies mutations in specific genes, enabling experts to match patients with the most potentially effective FDA-approved therapies.1

However, data presented at last year’s virtual ASCO Annual Meeting showed that less than half (49%) of those with NSCLC have received testing for the clinically relevant and NCCN-recommended biomarkers.2 So why aren’t oncologists universally recommending it?

Community-based vs. academic oncologists

To further explore practice patterns and barriers of biomarker testing, the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) invited both community and academic oncologists who have treated NSCLC to participate in a survey.

Only 40% of respondents claimed to be very familiar or extremely familiar with biomarker testing guidelines for lung cancer. The responses also showed that a far fewer percentage of community oncologists use biomarker testing to guide discussions with lung cancer patients on their prognosis than academic oncologists—by a margin of 48% to 73%.3

According to the survey, community oncologists order or recommend biomarker testing to make treatment decisions, while academic oncologists more so order or recommend testing to adhere to clinical practice guidelines, connect patients with clinical trials, and meet patients’ expectations.3

These results indicate that oncologists and their patients need to better understand biomarker testing and the role it plays in guiding treatments.

Expertise in biomarker testing

To support community oncologists, AccessHope’s collaboration of renowned cancer subspecialists address the inherent barriers of equitably offering biomarker testing for patients with NSCLC. By remotely deploying knowledge of the latest testing and treatments to oncologists, we provide insights they may use to develop more precise treatment plans.

Learn more about our cancer support services at myaccesshope.org.

References
1 Leiser M. Campaign aims to increase use of ‘crucial’ biomarker testing in NSCLC. June 27, 2021. HemOnc today. https://www.healio.com/news/hematology-oncology/20210625/campaign-aims-to-increase-use-of-crucial-biomarker-testing-in-nsclc. Accessed December 3, 20
2 West J. Miserable failure in molecular testing: the sequel (or “Why do we celebrate new molecular targets only to ignore them?”). Medscape LINK. Accessed December 3, 2021.
3 Leiser M. Biomarker testing decisions for lung cancer vary between academic, community oncologists. SeptemberHemOnctoday. https://www.healio.com/news/hematology-oncology/20210910/biomarker-testing-decisions-for-lung-cancer-vary-between-academic-community-oncologists. Accessed December 3, 2021.

 

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