A report released on 4 March 2015, entitled ‘The Testing Gap’, has revealed a disparity between treatment biomarker testing across three of the main cancers in the UK: bowel, breast and lung cancer. A biomarker test is a way of identifying which patients are more likely to respond to a particular treatment based on the genetic make-up of their tumour.
The research, commissioned by Merck Serono, based on a survey of 120 bowel, breast and lung cancer specialists from across the UK, showed that bowel cancer specialists are testing less frequently than breast and lung cancer specialists. The research highlights that a third of bowel cancer specialists are not carrying out the test at a metastatic diagnosis and that only 5% are testing at first diagnosis irrespective of the disease stage (compared to 69% of breast and 35% of lung cancer specialists).i
Dr Harpreet Wasan, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, said; “This new research confirms that the clinical implications of biomarker testing in bowel cancer is not widely appreciated and available as in other cancers biomarker testing is not given the same priority in bowel cancer compared with other major cancers. Many bowel cancer clinicians are not conducting the RAS test until very late in the treatment pathway. Earlier testing could inform treatment decisions, provide better outcomes for the patient and mean that we are not losing valuable time whilst the test results are being analysed.”
[i] Merck Serono UK, Treatment Biomarker Survey: A survey amongst cancer specialists in the UK. August 2014
Source: Merck Serono