Oncologists' Comfort With Broad Tumor Sequencing Varies Widely

By Clinical Informatics News Staff

March 25, 2014 | Since October 2011, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospital have collaborated on a program called Profile, offering all patients at the Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center (DF/BWCC) the opportunity to have their tumors genetically profiled for both treatment options and research projects. Over two years and thousands of patient enrollments, Profile has expanded from a targeted test for roughly 500 known cancer mutations, to complete sequencing of around 300 genes for both known and previously undiscovered mutations.

Now, a team of researchers at Dana-Farber has released the results of a survey of physicians at DF/BWCC, to explore working physicians’ attitudes toward multiplex tumor sequencing. The survey was taken as Profile was first being rolled out in late 2011 and early 2012, and spans medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, and surgeons.

Physicians reported a wide range of acceptance of genomic profiling as a routine part of oncology. While a quarter of physicians at DF/BWCC planned to use the results of Profile in planning the care of all or virtually all of their patients, a further fifth of physicians expected to test their patients rarely or not at all. Physicians’ expectations for taking advantage of Profile were closely correlated with their self-reported confidence in their own understanding of genomic data – suggesting that training of oncologists in genomics could have a major effect on the reach and impact of tumor sequencing programs.

Interestingly, over 40% of physicians surveyed approved of sharing the results of tumor profiles with patients even if the tests had no obvious implications for treatment or outlook. This may indicate growing acceptance of involving patients in their own treatment plans, and keeping medical data free and open.

This survey may be useful to cancer clinics around the country interested in offering broad tumor sequencing as an option for patients and physicians. The study was published yesterday in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.


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