Carbone Cancer Center Offers Free Genetic Testing for Patients with Advanced Cancer
Susan Lampert Smith
Patients whose cancers have spread and are incurable by standard treatments are eligible for free genetic testing thanks to the UW Carbone Cancer Center’s participation in a clinical trial.
The Strata Oncology trial is available to Carbone patients with advanced malignant solid tumors, incurable lymphoma and certain rare cancers.
The goal of the testing is to quickly match patients to treatments that target the gene mutations that drive their cancers. These treatments could be medicines already approved for different types of cancer. Or the tests could help patients enroll in so-called “bucket trials” that take patients with cancers that begin in different parts of the body – such as the lungs or the skin – and treat them with the same investigational drug if it targets a gene mutation found in their cancer.
UW Carbone participated in a pilot version of the trial last year and quickly enrolled 41 patients. Dr. Mark Burkard, a breast cancer oncologist who helps lead Carbone’s precision medicine efforts, says physicians were pleased that the Strata trial allows them to quickly test patients for 87 different mutations, without having to wait for insurance company approval or denial.
“This is a win-win for our patients and physicians,” says Burkard. “Once we know the mutations in their cancer, we can refer their cases to our Precision Medicine Molecular Tumor Board. If there is a matching investigational drug that looks promising for their mutation, we will refer the patient to the relevant basket study. They and their doctors could also use their genomic information for standard drugs.”
So far, more than 100 hospitals and cancer centers around the country are taking part in the Strata trial, which plans to offer the free testing to 100,000 patients to see if it increases participation in trials of new precision drugs.
Burkard is a member of Strata Oncology’s clinical advisory board.
Date Published: 01/22/2018