Tag Archive for: lung cancer

Lung Cancer Clinical Trials 201 Resource Guide

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Advances in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Testing

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Advances in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Testing from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer expert Dr. Grace Dy discusses the latest research in lung cancer testing, including liquid biopsies and minimal residual disease (MRD).

Dr. Grace Dy is Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grace Dy.

See More From INSIST! Lung Cancer

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An Expert Explains Predictive Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer

An Expert Explains Predictive Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer

The Role of Antibody Drug Conjugates in Lung Cancer Care

The Role of Antibody Drug Conjugates in Lung Cancer Care

What Biomarkers Affect Lung Cancer Care and Treatment

What Biomarkers Affect Lung Cancer Care and Treatment?


Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

As we know, researchers are still discovering new markers. Could you tell us about the latest news and research in biomarker testing for non-small cell lung cancer? 

Dr. Grace Dy:

Oh, there is a lot going on. You know, sky’s the limit. But just an example: we have liquid biopsies that are in clinical use right now, typically in the stage IV setting.  

But beyond that, we’re also having what we call minimal residual disease testing in what we call adjuvant situations. For example, patients who had surgery, there’s a big proportion of patients who still relapse.  

So, finding out – and our scans are imperfect. They will not be able to detect micro metastatic clones or even a small cluster.  

If you have a million cancer cells clustered somewhere, it will not show on the scan. 

Katherine Banwell:

Each and every one of them. 

Dr. Grace Dy:

Right. So, is there a better way? And so, that’s the question: can we detect it in the blood? So, these are assays that are being developed. Looking at different angles, not necessarily mutations, but maybe what we call epigenetic, meaning changes on top of the DNA that makes the DNA molecule be different in terms of whether some areas of the gene will be expressed or not. 

And so, looking at these patterns because they’re different in cancers versus non-cancers. So, whether you can see it in the blood. So, it’s a ripe area.  

There’s a lot of – so, there’s some overlap with early cancer detection and MRD, or minimal residual disease testing. 

So, I think there’s an intense interest in developing these. But none are fully validated yet. There are trials that are going on, the studies that are ongoing to prove the utility and validity of these tests. So, we’re very excited. And obviously, AI everywhere. You have ChatGPT, right? So, you have AI being incorporated in diagnostics as well, in radiology, in pathology, to see: hey, maybe can we use AI technology to even maybe one day give us a mutation profile, right?   

Katherine Banwell:

Yeah. 

Dr. Grace Dy:

And that would be huge, right? But we’re not there yet. 

The Role of Antibody Drug Conjugates in Lung Cancer Care

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The Role of Antibody Drug Conjugates in Lung Cancer Care from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What are antibody drug conjugates (ADCs)? Expert Dr. Grace Dy defines this new class of therapy and explains how ADCs work to treat lung cancer.

Dr. Grace Dy is Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grace Dy.

See More From INSIST! Lung Cancer

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Advances in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Testing

Advances in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Testing

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How Can You Access Personalized Medicine for Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer? 


Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

What is the role of antibody drug conjugates in lung cancer care? 

Dr. Grace Dy:

So, the antibody drug conjugates are an exciting new class of therapy. In fact, it’s been developed for decades, but we had the first antibody drug conjugate that was just approved less than a year ago in lung cancer. And that’s the drug called trastuzumab deruxtecan (Enhertu). It seems like we’re always steps behind our breast cancer colleagues. 

You know, trastuzumab deruxtecan was first developed in breast cancer patients. But hey, we also find we can have some subset of patients who will derive benefit from that. But that’s just one example. There’s plenty of antibody drug conjugates that are being developed. 

So, what are antibody drug conjugates? So, as the name implies, it’s an antibody that is attached to a drug that is actually typically chemotherapy, but you can use any other drug. Generally, it’s a chemotherapy. So, you can think of it as a targeted way of delivering chemotherapy because the antibody is very specific to a certain protein. And generally, what we try to do is look for proteins that are more expressed in cancers than in normal tissues. And you try to target that and improve the therapeutic index by using a more potent chemotherapy and potentially increase efficacy that way.

What Biomarkers Affect Lung Cancer Care and Treatment?

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What Biomarkers Affect Lung Cancer Care and Treatment? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer driver mutations can have an impact on therapy choices for patients. Dr. Grace Dy discusses the various lung cancer driver mutations and how treatment options may target specific markers.

Dr. Grace Dy is Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grace Dy.

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An Expert Explains Predictive Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer

An Expert Explains Predictive Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer

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How Does Biomarker Testing Impact Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Care?

Why Do Lung Cancer Patients Need Molecular Testing Before Choosing Treatment?

Why Do Lung Cancer Patients Need Molecular Testing Before Choosing Treatment?


Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

How does testing impact treatment and care? 

Dr. Grace Dy:

So, back in like maybe more than two decades ago, I was still in school. The treatment paradigm is sort of like a one size fits all. You come in with a lung cancer diagnosis. Everybody gets treated the same.  

But with advancements in technology and understanding of actually what we call lung cancer is really genetically very different from one patient to another. We are actually not even still able to tease out all the particular details, but there are some improvements that have been made along the way. And so, defining, for example, mutations in cancers, there are what we call driver mutations that have a matched targeted therapy.  

In certain patients, actually the target therapy works so much better than chemotherapy, for example. And that’s why we have it in guidelines based on the results of clinical trials showing that in the appropriate setting, if you have a mutation that we discovered through molecular testing, and then you use the matched target therapy, survival is so much better compared to, for example, chemotherapy.  

Same with immunotherapy. If we use a biomarker to test out which patients may actually respond well to immunotherapy alone – so, that’s a major treatment paradigm change within the less than 10 years wherein we define there’s a group of patients where that’s all they need. Non-chemo, just immunotherapy, and they will do well. 

Katherine Banwell:

What are some of the mutations that are being targeted? 

Dr. Grace Dy:

Right. So, it seems like every year, it’s growing. So, it started off with the poster child in lung cancer story of EGFR. So, we have EGFR mutations. Even EGFR mutations, they’re a subtype of mutations for – there are certain drugs that work better for certain mutations.  

So, we have the classical EGFR mutations, the atypical EGFR mutations. But EGFR mutations as a group are probably the most characterized given the longevity of the research that has been done. But there’s a lot more. 

So, for example, ALK, KRAS, BRAF, HER2, NTFK, NRG, RET, MET. Even those mutations, they’re all these new ones. It’s between the subtype of mutations. For example, we talked about EGFR. Same thing with MET. You have MET exon 14 skip mutations. But in the absence of MET skip mutations, there are also what we call MET gene amplification, MET protein over-expression that have matching therapies that may actually work better. 

But we’re still kind of scratching the surface. There’s a whole lot more being characterized and developed. Case in point, just a little over a year ago, there’s an LTK Fusion that was described. Very rare. But there’s a target therapy for it. So, unless you test it, you won’t find a matching targeted therapy. 

An Expert Explains Predictive Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer

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An Expert Explains Predictive Biomarker Testing for Lung Cancer from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What is lung cancer biomarker testing? Dr. Grace Dy defines both biomarker and molecular testing and explains how these test results are used in lung cancer patient care.

Dr. Grace Dy is Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grace Dy.

See More From INSIST! Lung Cancer

Related Resources:

What Biomarkers Affect Lung Cancer Care and Treatment

What Biomarkers Affect Lung Cancer Care and Treatment?

The Role of Antibody Drug Conjugates in Lung Cancer Care

The Role of Antibody Drug Conjugates in Lung Cancer Care

Advances in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Testing

Advances in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer Testing


Transcript:

Dr. Grace Dy:

My name is Grace Dy. I’m a thoracic medical oncologist at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center here in Buffalo, New York. 

Katherine Banwell:

Thank you for being with us today.  

Dr. Grace Dy:

Thank you for having me. 

Katherine Banwell:

What is biomarker testing, and is this the same as molecular testing for non-small cell lung cancer? 

Dr. Grace Dy:

That’s a very good question. So, let’s first maybe define what biomarker means. So, biomarker is an all-encompassing term relating to a measurement of a biological parameter. That’s what it means.  

So, you can actually have biomarker related to imaging. So, it’s not specific to a particular test. But what it’s trying to do is to guide doctors in making decisions. So, you can have, for example, a PET scan as a biomarker to indicate the effectiveness of therapy. 

So, it’s not specific to a test. So, it’s a broader scope. But in cancer, generally, it’s used interchangeably with molecular testing. And molecular testing is a more focused test on the genetics of the cancer.  

In some aspects, sometimes it also refers to testing for proteins, characteristics of different proteins in the cancer. Again, to help doctors generally define what might be a better treatment option that is personalized to the patient’s cancer. 

In some instances, the biomarker can also be what we call prognostic, meaning independent of what we do with the treatment, it may define to us how well a patient will survive or have their outcomes, whether they have treatment or not. 

So, those are maybe the nuances between a predictive versus a prognostic biomarker. But for all intents and purposes, the most common test that we use for lung cancer patients are what we call predictive biomarker testing. Molecular testing is one of the ones that we often commonly request to help us define treatment modalities, especially in non-small cell lung cancer. 

What Procedures Are in Place to Protect Lung Cancer Clinical Trial Participants?

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What Procedures Are in Place to Protect Lung Cancer Clinical Trial Participants? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What safety measures are in place to protect people in lung cancer clinical trials? Dr. Grace Dy reviews protocols to help maintain clinical trial safety.

Dr. Grace Dy is Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grace Dy.

See More From Lung Cancer Clinical Trials 201

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Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

What safety measures are in place to safeguard patients?  

Dr. Grace Dy:

So, there’s a lot of safety measures involved. Not just within the protocol but there are also governing committees. IRB, Scientific Review committees, that look over – and these committees typically also, actually, involve some patient advocates that will be reviewing the protocols to make sure it’s not just a scientific aspect that is looked into but also patient perspectives that are looked into when we review these protocols.  

So, from the medical perspective, protocols are generally written with guidelines to help treating doctors how to manage side effects. For example, because of the intense preparation – what we call pre-clinical, meaning the preparation done in animal models, in learning from other settings, for example; from other drugs, for example. If it’s not the first in class, you have a sense of what potential side-effects might be expected and so you prepare accordingly. 

Lung Cancer Clinical Trials | Addressing Common Patient Concerns

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Lung Cancer Clinical Trials | Addressing Common Patient Concerns from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Considering a lung cancer clinical trial can feel overwhelming and brings up a number of questions. Dr. Grace Dy reviews common concerns from patients, and explains how and when placebo may be used in trials.

Dr. Grace Dy is Chief of Thoracic Oncology and Professor of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center in Buffalo, New York. Learn more about Dr. Grace Dy.

See More From Lung Cancer Clinical Trials 201

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Transcript:

Katherine Banwell:

What are some common concerns you hear from patients when discussing lung cancer clinical trial options?  

Dr. Grace Dy:

When I discuss clinical trials, the first question generally patients ask is: well, how effective is the drug, right? And the second question will be: well, what are the side effects? And those are very valid questions, but we may not always have an answer to it, especially if they’re in early phase. I do a lot of early phase clinical trials, meaning sometimes we don’t even know the proper dose of the drug to use, for example.  

And the intent of the trial, for example, in Phase I, generally, is to find out what is a proper dose to use that is safe and effective before we can do a test in Phase II setting using the recommended dose to test it out more rigorously how well it works. And if it passes Phase II, then we go to Phase III, which then generally is comparing it with the standard to see whether it will be better or at least equivalent or non-inferior. 

And you may ask, “Well, why even do a non-inferior?” Because, well, some drugs, it may not prolong your life more than current therapies, but if it has better side effect profile, right? So, there are actually drugs that are approved through non-inferiority trials. But those are the common concerns, and I think another common concern that I hear when I talk about trials, patients are concerned about receiving placebo. 

Katherine Banwell:

And what do you tell patients? 

Dr. Grace Dy:

Well, it depends on the design of the trial and the question that is being answered. So, in fact, for example, some situations in the standard of care is not to do anything. The best way to remove bias is to administer a placebo because the standard care would be not to do anything. And those, generally, are Phase III, you know. An early phase, Phase I, Phase II generally there are no placebo involved. I mean, there are some randomized Phase II trials that there are placebo involved and I explain to the patient why placebo may be involved and it’s usually on top of a standard of care. So, there could be a standard of care therapy but you add something else. So, you want to compare it with a new drug plus the standard of care. So, you might add placebo so that the doctors will not be bias when they measured their scans, for example. They say oh, this patient is getting this experimental drug. So, they’re excited. They might oh, you know, make it look better than what it actually is.  

Katherine Banwell:

Now, as a researcher yourself, do you always know that a placebo is part of the clinical trial testing?  

Dr. Grace Dy:

Yes, it will be in the design. So, it will say there is a placebo control. So, the title, or the design, generally will tell you this is a randomized, double-blind placebo control. Usually if there is a blinded there might be some placebo involved because then you don’t know what people are getting.

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

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Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

What can communication around lung cancer biomarker testing be improved? Experts Dr. Heather Wakelee and Dr. Leigh Boehmer share advice for framing conversations with patients about biomarker testing and ways to adjust communication to different learning styles.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

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Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

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How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed

How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed?

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

I just want to talk a little bit about that communication, because most of you have shared how important that communication is, and we know that there are challenges, inside and outside of cancer with regard to communicating with patients, and certainly as a physician that some of the complexity of the topics that you all have discussed I would admit is even a lot for me, and so we can imagine that for someone without any medical training, this is very difficult, these topics of biomarker testing and genetics and mutations and precision medicine. So I’d love for you, Dr. Wakelee, to start by just sharing some best practices, things you’ve learned over the years with how can providers who are watching this program really engage in effective, thoughtful conversations with patients and their family members about biomarker testing?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

So that’s a great, great question. And really, the communication is to me, like I said, the core there, when I’m talking about biomarker testing with the patient, I usually try to frame it from the context of what makes the cancer different than the rest of you. And what we’re trying to figure out is what is it about the cancer that makes it different than the rest of you, so we can then target what’s different, and hopefully with that, being able to control the cancer without harming the rest of you. So that’s sort of one framework of it, and depending on the patient’s level of understanding, and then sort of layer in different levels of…for people who are understanding DNA and mutations, then you can start talking about those specifics, and for folks who don’t necessarily want to think about it that way, or haven’t had the education about it that way, then just starting from that framework. And I think about it this way too, is how is the cancer different than the rest of the person? And what can we do to therefore attack the cancer differently than we would the rest of the person?

And then from there, if there is a mutation or a translocation or something else that we found, can use the name of that gene and say, “This is different in the cancer than in the rest of you, and this is a targeted therapy that’s going to go after that, and it’s going to work for a period of time, but the cancer is always evolving.” And so we kind of plant that seed from the beginning also, that it’s not curing, that the cancer continues to evolve, and eventually it’s going to change in a way where that doesn’t work, but for right now, that’s the best treatment. So that’s how I’m going about with that communication with people on it. And then, again, I practice in Silicon Valley, so a lot of people will come in with books, practically, of all the research that they’ve done, and so that’s a very different conversation than someone who comes in and says, “Whatever you think is best, doc.” And even when I hear that, which I don’t happen to hear too often anymore, I really feel it’s critical that the patient is still understanding, why are we picking this treatment for your particular cancer, and what are our expectations from it?

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

I really appreciate the plain language, and I think that’s important, and also your acknowledgment that patients come to us with different levels of knowledge and expertise, and so really it’s about meeting them where they are, so I really appreciate that. And, Dr. Boehmer, we’re going to allow you to wrap up on this topic, I know that the Association of Community Cancer Centers has done research about what patients want to hear and some of the biases around providers, maybe thinking that patients don’t want or don’t need some of this information, that it may be too confusing for them, so I’d love for you to share some knowledge around your experience in this area and some best practices around communicating with patients.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer: 

Thanks very much, I appreciate the opportunity, I’ll try and keep it targeted. I think number one, Dr. Wakelee, you’re correct. We have visual learners, auditory learners, we have people that want more direction and less direction, so simply starting by asking, how do you prefer to learn? It’s a wonderful place to start. It could be drawing pictures, it could be giving them that academic print out of literature published in a cutting-edge journal. But we need to know how patients learn and respect the fact that we’re all individuals and we as providers talking to patients may need to alter our approach based on different patients’ characteristics. I also think our research has shown that consistent terminology must, must be utilized, biomarker testing, molecular profiling, next-generation sequencing, mutation analysis, whatever it is, that you have decided to make your consistent terminology, please in your teams, then in the next level of teams, then in your health system, and then with your colleagues, talk about what it is, why it is, does it go against another group or is it in agreement with A, B, C groups. Because we have to, as a collective, really agree on and start utilizing consistent terminology, because until we do, we’re just continuing to stir the pot and cause confusion amongst patients, caregivers, other patient advocacy organizations and ourselves.

The other thing I’ll say, at ACCC, we’ve got a lot of resources aggregated in one place about shared decision-making, what it is, how to do it, how to assess yourself, health literacy, how do you evaluate your program to make sure you’re asking the right questions before you ever, ever have a conversation with a patient about biomarker testing or different targeted treatments for patients with non-small cell lung cancer? There’s little things that you can do today that’s so important. Little things you can do today that will make a positive influence on your patients’ outcomes and experience just by asking, addressing your own biases, being inclusive with your language and using consistent terminology. All of that is on our website and it’s truly incremental. Go easy on yourself, we’re all learning here, and acknowledging your bias and trying to be more inclusive is very, very worthwhile, and it’s okay if it’s small steps every single day made. 


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Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

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Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

How is lung cancer biomarker testing impacted by the patient-provider role? Experts Dr. Heather Wakelee and Dr. Leigh Boehmer discuss how specific additions to multidisciplinary teams and support resources aid in building communication for biomarker testing and optimal treatment.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

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What Challenges Surround Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

What Challenges Surround Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed

How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed?

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

As we begin to think about how the patient-provider relationship and the patient-provider communication plays a role in addressing some of these barriers that we’ve been talking about and then making sure that patients are appropriately being tested and treated, I’d love to hear from you all regarding the role of the patient-provider partnership as it relates to biomarker testing. So, let’s see, I’ll start with you, Dr. Boehmer.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:  

So I really, really think this question is critical, and I’m going to bias by saying, an exciting new position on the multidisciplinary cancer care team that we are learning about it, some of our member programs, is that of a precision medicine steward or navigator. So if you’re at all familiar with the idea of a patient navigation service or the services provided by financial advocates or financial navigators, this is really identifying that it is getting so complex in the world of targeted testing, targeted treatments today, that it literally requires in some places and settings an FTE or multiple to try to navigate testing, pathology, external labs, medical oncology, pharmacy services, nursing administration, and then, of course, patients and caregivers, and communication and context building, working with patient advocacy groups who are out there publishing great resources on testing and what they mean and targeted treatments. But trying to put all of that together, I will admit as a community clinician, as you probably see 15, 18, 20 patients a day, sometimes with as many different discrete types of cancers, it gets overwhelming.

And so, having a support person on staff who can help you manage some of that information and the patient-provider conversations, ACCC is very, very much about recognizing multidisciplinary teams of providers, so it’s critical to have navigation, to have social work providing distress screening and psychosocial support, to have pharmacists talking about targeted therapies and how they match with, to Dr. Wakelee’s points, mutations and fusions and rearrangements and everything we’re testing for with our big panels of next-generation sequencing, right? So I really want to encourage us all to utilize as patients and as team members, everybody else on the team, which is also to say patients and caregivers, are team members too, right? They have rights and responsibilities as members of their own team. And I will end with this, I say all of this, and I feel justified in saying all of this because we’ve done research at ACCC, and without that critical infrastructure, there’s potentially a real disconnect. So, for example, we asked patients with lung cancer what resources would be most impactful for you as you embark on your treatment journey, and they said things to us like psychosocial support and financial assistance.

When we asked the provider respondents a similar question in their own survey, the number one thing they identified, they thought patients needed were educational handouts or websites to go seek information about their diagnosis. Now that’s not to shake a finger at anybody or to say that you were right or you were wrong, that’s just to say, we need people who can approach this whole patient-provider construct from different perspectives, because Leigh is going to ask different questions than Heather is going to ask, than Nicole is going to ask, and that’s the beauty of multidisciplinary care coordination. We do need to come at it from different angles, different perspectives, and always make sure we’re remaining open and inclusive and asking what patients need and want right now. Because we don’t always have the answers, we have to remember that. We’re human, we have biases, it’s always better to ask and provide and then ask again.

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

You are really speaking my language, Dr. Boehmer.

[laughter]

Dr. Nicole Rochester:  

And I see, Dr. Wakelee, both of us are shaking our heads the entire time that you’ve been speaking and just around this idea of multidisciplinary teams that include the patient and the family, and ideally at the center. Dr. Wakelee, do you have anything to add?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Hard to add. That was very impressive, Dr. Boehmer, [laughter] and highlighting that just…we talk about multidisciplinary sometimes, the first version, some people think of it’s just it’s a team of a few different types of doctors. And obviously that’s not at all what we’re talking about, this is to provide the best possible care for a patient dealing with cancer, that physician-to-patient interaction is critical, but the patient to physicians to family is critical. And then you’ve got to also think about all the psycho-social needs and whether that’s going to be with a social worker or… We have a lot of people working in oncology who are psychologists and psychiatrists particularly focused in that because the coping with the disease is such a big part of it. And it’s also the pharmacy teams and the nursing teams. It is…multidisciplinary is many, many different levels of circles, but at the core, it’s the patient and family and the primary physician, that’s kind of the way I think at it, but I’m an oncologist, so perhaps I’m a little biased in my viewpoint there.

But it’s that communication right there where you sort of have all of the information that the physician’s holding, that’s coming from all of the different treatment disciplines, and then you’ve got all the information that the patient’s holding, that’s coming from their understanding of them and all of their other aspects of their life, and that’s sort of that interaction at the core, and making sure that both sides are seeing each other and seeing all of the other layers of that, so that you could make sure that at each point the recommendations and what the patient is actually doing, everyone’s coming from a point of understanding. I think, to me, that’s the most critical piece. And you don’t have that understanding if you don’t also have all the information you need about the tumor, and you’re not making that right decision if you don’t have all the information you need about all the aspects of who that patient is as a person, and that goes into their decisions as well, and that’s to me, that’s what we’re aiming for, right?


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How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed?

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How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Now that barriers to lung cancer biomarker testing are understood, how are they being addressed? Experts Dr. Heather Wakelee and Dr. Leigh Boehmer discuss positive procedural changes that are assisting multidisciplinary teams to reduce time to testing and to overcome financial barriers to care.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

Related Resources:

Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing 

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

We’ve talked a lot about the barriers, which are many, what’s on the horizon or what positive trends have you all seen, and specifically what are the opportunities, what are some things that are either happening or that are being explored with regard to removing some of these barriers or all of the barriers that each of you have talked about? I’ll start with you, Dr. Wakelee, give us some hope.

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

All right. Great. Well, I think there is reason to have hope. Absolutely. There always is reason to have hope. And so many organizations, including ISLC, including ACCC, including NCC…I mean, you could name any organization that’s involved in cancer care and education, is really focusing on this issue of making sure that every oncologist knows the importance of doing biomarker testing for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, that we are trying to expand that not just to the oncologist, but also to the folks making the diagnosis, so they can be aware as well. Patient advocacy groups are very engaged in this as well, making sure that when someone is newly diagnosed, if they reach out to an advocacy group, one of the messages they hear is, have you asked about testing what’s happening with the tumor testing?

The more people who are aware that’s a standard of care in treating lung cancer, the more that’s going to happen, and then continuing to explore those financial barriers, and as more agents are FDA-approved, where that becomes a preferred first sign option, but you only know that if the testing’s happened, that leads to campaigning to make sure that the testing is being covered as well, you know, when you can argue, this patient isn’t getting the FDA-approved best care for their cancer because that testing wasn’t done, that’s a really powerful statement. And I think that’s what we’re seeing change happening.

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

That is incredible, thank you. Thank you so much. I can smile again.

[laughter]

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

What about you, Dr. Boehmer? I know you’re getting…your organization is doing a lot of work in this area, so tell us about some of the advances, some of the improvements and tackling some of these barriers that both of you have elucidated today.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

So Dr. Wakelee, thank you for all of those hope-inducing concepts and methodologies, because I honestly believe that so many of us learn best today by seeing someone like me doing X, Y, Z, so I know I can do it as well. So I think it’s about documentation of justification of testing for prior authorization claims. I think it’s about working together with the multidisciplinary team, pharmacist, advanced practitioners, oncology-certified nurses to help manage that back and forth with testing and external pathology and laboratory companies, to make sure that results show up in the right spot in the electronic health record so that they can be interpreted, shared with patients, communicated and contextualized in real time. I think it’s about greater incorporation as we’ve seen across so many of our programs of the tenets of shared clinical decision-making, and how to have a meaningful conversation with a patient and/or their caregivers about testing and its role on treatment and drug selection, and outcomes, and progression-free survival. And there are a lot of programs out there that are doing bits of this or different points along that continuum.

ACCC for example, building on the research I shared before, recognizes that a lot of community programs don’t have kind of operational best practices for how to incorporate biomarker testing into a patient’s journey, and so for lung, and also, for example, for breast cancer, we’re working on creating care pathways which will help multidisciplinary clinician teams integrate discussions of biomarker testing and its impact at various critical time points along a patient’s diagnosis to treatment, to survivorship or end-of-life care. And those are just examples of us not being overly duplicative, but putting all the resources in one place, talking about timing, talking about when and how to have meaningful conversations, and then doing it with health-literate, vetted resources and through a lens of equity and shared decision-making, because you look like me, you had success with it. I’m going to do it for my at-risk patients as well, because one, it’s the right thing to do. And two, you taught me how to do it, and three, you told me what success looks like so I can measure myself against you, and that’s a successful model for scalability. 


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How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

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How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer biomarker testing now has actionable data for clinicians and patient advocates to utilize for improved patient care. Experts Dr. Heather Wakelee and Dr. Leigh Boehmer discuss barriers to time-critical testing, patient communication advice, and health outcome benefits backed up by data.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

Related Resources:

What Challenges Surround Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

What Challenges Surround Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed

How Are Barriers in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing Being Addressed?

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing 

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Both of you have been on the ground floor of research in this area with regard to biomarker testing and availability and disparities. So I’d love for you to talk a little bit about the data and what does the data tell us with regard to biomarker testing? So I’ll start with you this time, Dr. Boehmer.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

[chuckle] Thanks, I appreciate it. I’ve been privileged to work with both providers and patients’ caregivers, taking a closer look at some of the barriers and then practical solutions that might be utilized to address some of these concerns around testing. So back in 2021, ACCC used the mixed methods approach to try to understand the motivators of patients and providers, their practice patterns, their attitudes, the educational needs of patients and providers related to biomarker testing and beyond. And you know what’s really interesting, in almost 100 total provider respondents, less than half of community clinicians who responded said that they used biomarker testing to guide patient discussions.

And that was compared to nearly three-quarters of all responding academic clinicians, and it really made us start to think about…so, you know, the impetus for testing in the context of testing. In this particular research, to my earlier comments, we were actually targeting patients with non-small cell lung cancer who were uninsured, underinsured and/or covered by Medicaid. So dual eligible beneficiaries, and it was really interesting because we looked at why and how conversations were happening about biomarker testing between providers and patients, and really identified some tremendous opportunities for education around clinicians’ needs to become more familiar with guideline concordant testing and to have more practical applications of guideline concordant testing, so things like case-based examples, so then ultimately they could have optimal conversations with patients and help coordinate multidisciplinary care.

There’s also data which would suggest a disconnect between ordering testing after initial staging versus ordering testing at the time of initial biopsy. And, Dr. Wakelee, you said something that really resonated with me because if we can identify patients who need to be tested, if we can have access to testing, we still have a disconnect, and this is largely seen in community programs today where clinicians may be waiting 10 days, 14 days, even longer to receive results of testing, and you’re right, we have patients who need treatment initiated sooner than later, and you miss these opportunities because of delays, prior authorizations and a lot of other things, so the data certainly quantitatively, qualitatively is speaking to this hierarchy of problems and there’s definitely some mismatches between patient and provider perceptions of why testing happens, what it’s used for, and timing of the testing and results sharing.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

That is fascinating, and we’re definitely going to get deeper into that, this whole patient-provider interaction, so I really appreciate you introducing that and thank you for all the research that your organization has done in this area. So, Dr. Wakelee, you’re on the academic side of things, and you also have been deeply involved in research in this area, so what would you like to offer from your perspective in terms of the data around biomarker testing?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Well, thanks, and, Dr. Boehmer, you have a very comprehensive answer there, I think that the differences between academic and community sometimes are broad and sometimes aren’t that big at all, and I do think we face a lot of the same challenges. It’s just…it’s making sure that when a physician is meeting with a patient, and let’s say it’s with the oncologist, that the oncologist is really mindful that any patient with non-small cell lung cancer could have a tumor with a driver mutation. I think it’s easy to stereotype and think that only certain patients are going to, and therefore we shouldn’t be testing everybody. And that gets dangerous. I think it also is a matter of where you’re in practice, and if you’re in a practice where the prevalence of the driver mutations and the tumors is low, you might just say, “Oh, I’m never going to see it,” and you stop testing, and that’s also very dangerous because we have seen in multiple trials, as we get back to that research question, that if we can identify a driver mutation…

And we know that more than half of patients who’ve developed lung cancer who have never smoked or have a light smoking history are going to have an actionable driving mutation, and even in people who do have a smoking history, of any ethnic background, they’re still 10 to 20 percent or maybe more as we identify more of these driver mutations, where that’s what’s really the force in the tumor, and if you find it and you can start someone on the appropriate targeted therapy, usually across multiple trials, the toxicity is less than you would get with chemotherapy or immune therapy.

Usually the probability of response is over half, you know, if someone’s going to have a benefit that that’s going to help them feel better for a period of time in controlling their cancer, it really drastically changes their whole tumor outcome, they’re going to be living longer, feeling better, and ultimately that’s our goal when we’re helping someone with metastatic disease, and if you don’t know that the tumor has a driver mutation, you’re never going to give them that appropriate treatment, and I think that is the real challenge that we face, and there are multiple different angles to that, right? You have to have the physician aware of the importance of finding the mutation, altering the treatment as necessary, and giving that patient the best possible option for care.

But it also is making sure that the patients are open about this, because I think there’s still a lot of misperceptions about when we talk about driver mutations and the word mutation, making sure that people understand we’re talking about the cancer and not about the person. And in a short conversation that can sometimes be missed, and then people are afraid of getting tested, afraid of what that might mean for them or their family, and so the communication around, we’re going to test your tumor because your tumor might have a mutation that’s going to allow us to give different care.  I think that’s really important that people always remember to talk about the tumor and not about the mutation in the person, that’s really, really critical.

And also to avoid that stereotyping about who do we test and who do we not test, pretty much anyone with a non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer, their tumor needs to be tested, and many people who have a squamous cytology that’s also reasonable. So that’s the people aspect of it, the insurance barriers and the interpretation of the results, those are still there as well. And even if you have the perfect communication and the patient understands and you get the testing done immediately, you still have to deal with, is it going to get covered or not? And the results come back, is it going to be interpretable or not? Because that can sometimes be tricky also. 


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What Challenges Surround Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

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What Challenges Surround Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing? from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

Lung cancer biomarker testing is a vital piece of precision medicine, but what are the challenges around testing? Experts Dr. Heather Wakelee and Dr. Leigh Boehmer discuss the goals of biomarker testing for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and common barriers to biomarker testing access.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

Related Resources:

How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

How Does Data Inform Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing?

Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Patient-Provider Relationship Role in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

Improving Communication Around Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing 

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

So we know that biomarker testing connects the right patient to the right treatment at the right time and potentially to the right clinical trial, but there also are some challenges and interventions are necessary, and that’s going to really frame our conversation today. So I’d like to start with the general landscape, so I’m going to start with you, Dr. Wakelee, what in your opinion and expertise are the existing challenges as it relates to biomarker testing in academic medical centers?

Dr. Heather Wakelee: 

Thanks for that question, Dr. Rochester. I think that the biggest challenge is making sure that every patient with a new diagnosis of advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer gets the testing done and gets the testing results back before they start treatment, right? And that’s the goal. I guess that’s more of the goal than the problem, and the challenges come in each of those different phases. First is making sure that every patient is given access to the testing, and there are barriers if the patient ends up very, very sick in a hospital setting.

There are some regulations that can make that challenging, they might be…their first encounters with the healthcare system are going to potentially be with pulmonologist, general practitioners, interventional radiology. And those people might not be aware of what needs to happen to get the tissue as quickly as possible into testing, they might not be as aware of drawing a blood test, if we’re going to do a liquid biopsy, and so if those things aren’t initiated first, when the patient gets to see the oncologist some days or even a week or two later, we’re already further down the path.

They might be starting to get symptoms, and then when you start the testing, you might have to wait longer than is really acceptable before you have the results that could inform treatment. And as you said, Dr. Rochester, the testing, when we get those molecular results back, that’s going to help us figure out what’s going on in that tumor that might change our treatment options, because there’s a driver mutation where there’s a new drug approved that’s going to be the best efficacious opportunity for that patient. And if they don’t know, they can’t start it, we also run into issues where if the patient’s symptomatic, we can’t wait, and then they get started on chemotherapy and immune therapy, which might otherwise be a standard approach, immune therapy is in the body, chemotherapy is in the body, the toxicity is there, and then if you later find out, oh, there was a driver mutation, your hands are a little tied, because the toxicity can be amplified if you combine agents and the immune therapy is in the system for months.

So these are some of the challenges and really the barrier…the biggest barriers from my perspective are not every patient is being tested with comprehensive testing as early as possible, right?

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Thank you for that, Dr. Wakelee, you’ve really, really outlined how the challenges around access to testing and even the timeliness and the importance of timely testing and the fact that these patients are often kind of making their way through a series of providers before they get to the oncologist. So I appreciate that. Dr. Boehmer, I know you have a lot of experience in the community setting where we know there are a host of additional barriers, so I’d love for you to weigh in on this question, and what challenges are you seeing with biomarker testing in the community setting?

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

Thanks very much for the question. Yeah, I think the use of precision medicine was initially touted as this opportunity to address care disparities, whether that’s in racial ethnic minorities, differences between academic and community practices, et cetera, by using the technology to try to determine treatment largely based on things like the genetic makeup of a tumor, and unfortunately, in reality disparities have sadly only continued to grow in the setting of targeted and/or testing related to things like ability to pay and insurance coverage for testing, mistrust in the healthcare system and historical injustices related to cancer care delivery. And there’s a significant discordance in literature between patients and clinicians understanding of the importance of biomarker testing relative to treatment planning.

So even now in 2023, as more states are passing legislation to expand coverage of comprehensive testing, we’re hearing from member programs of ACCC running up against increasing prior authorization restrictions and requirements, and there are unfortunate ramifications of that, like additional costs to programs or additional costs to patients, for example, in the setting of reflexive testing, there’s also a lot of ongoing data which suggests concerning continued racial disparities in rates of guideline concordant testing, so there’s a lot of opportunities for us to learn, yes, from what we have done in successful models of rollout of testing, but we’re still confronting some pretty major challenges and barriers, and I gotta say that’s true whether you’re talking about community programs and practices or academic partners as well. 


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HCP Roundtable: Improving Clinician-Patient Conversations in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing

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HCP Roundtable: Improving Clinician-Patient Conversations in Lung Cancer Biomarker Testing from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Comprehensive biomarker testing can play a very important role in the personalized treatment for patients with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). How do we improve clinician-patient conversations in biomarker testing? And how do we remove barriers that can impede an HCP’s ability to treat patients with personalized care?

Dr. Heather Wakelee, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine and Dr. Leigh Boehmer, medical director at Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) weigh in on this very important topic. 

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

Related Resources:

How Can Lung Cancer Experts in Academic and Community Settings Collaborate

How Can Lung Cancer Experts in Academic and Community Settings Collaborate

Methods to Improve Lung Cancer Physician-Patient Communication

Methods to Improve Lung Cancer Physician-Patient Communication 

What Guidelines Exist for Lung Cancer Genomic Biomarker Testing

What Guidelines Exist for Lung Cancer Genomic Biomarker Testing

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Welcome to this Empowering Providers to Empower Patients (EPEP) program. I’m Dr. Nicole Rochester, pediatrician and CEO of Your GPS Doc. In this Patient Empowerment Network program, we connect leading lung cancer expert voices to discuss enhancing physician-patient communication and shared decision-making in lung cancer care. Some of the topics we’re going to tackle in today’s conversation include the challenges and solutions for biomarker testing in the community hospital setting and in academic centers.

We’re also gonna talk about removing barriers that can impede a healthcare provider’s ability to treat patients with personalized care, improving clinician-patient communication with regard to NSCLC biomarker testing, and we’re also gonna explore opportunities to improve access to personalized care for all patients. I am thrilled to be joined by thoracic medical oncologist, Dr. Heather Wakelee, Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Oncology at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Wakelee is also President of the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer. I am also thrilled to be joined by Dr. Leigh Boehmer, Chief Medical Officer at the Association of Community Cancer Centers. Thank you both for joining us today.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:  

Thank you.

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Thank you.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

So we know that biomarker testing connects the right patient to the right treatment at the right time and potentially to the right clinical trial, but there also are some challenges and interventions are necessary, and that’s going to really frame our conversation today. So I’d like to start with the general landscape, so I’m going to start with you, Dr. Wakelee, what in your opinion and expertise are the existing challenges as it relates to biomarker testing in academic medical centers?

Dr. Heather Wakelee: 

Thanks for that question, Dr. Rochester. I think that the biggest challenge is making sure that every patient with a new diagnosis of advanced stage non-small cell lung cancer gets the testing done and gets the testing results back before they start treatment, right? And that’s the goal. I guess that’s more of the goal than the problem, and the challenges come in each of those different phases. First is making sure that every patient is given access to the testing, and there are barriers if the patient ends up very, very sick in a hospital setting.

There are some regulations that can make that challenging, they might be…their first encounters with the healthcare system are going to potentially be with pulmonologists, general practitioners, interventional radiology. And those people might not be aware of what needs to happen to get the tissue as quickly as possible into testing, they might not be as aware of drawing a blood test, if we’re going to do a liquid biopsy, and so if those things aren’t initiated first, when the patient gets to see the oncologist some days or even a week or two later, we’re already further down the path.

They might be starting to get symptoms, and then when you start the testing, you might have to wait longer than is really acceptable before you have the results that could inform treatment. And as you said, Dr. Rochester, the testing, when we get those molecular results back, that’s going to help us figure out what’s going on in that tumor that might change our treatment options, because there’s a driver mutation where there’s a new drug approved that’s going to be the best efficacious opportunity for that patient. And if they don’t know, they can’t start it, we also run into issues where if the patient’s symptomatic, we can’t wait, and then they get started on chemotherapy and immunotherapy, which might otherwise be a standard approach, immunotherapy is in the body, chemotherapy is in the body, the toxicity is there, and then if you later find out, oh, there was a driver mutation, your hands are a little tied, because the toxicity can be amplified if you combine agents and the immune therapy is in the system for months.

So these are some of the challenges and really the barriers…the biggest barriers from my perspective are not every patient is being tested with comprehensive testing as early as possible, right?

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Thank you for that, Dr. Wakelee, you’ve really, really outlined how the challenges around access to testing and even the timeliness and the importance of timely testing and the fact that these patients are often kind of making their way through a series of providers before they get to the oncologist. So I appreciate that. Dr. Boehmer, I know you have a lot of experience in the community setting where we know there are a host of additional barriers, so I’d love for you to weigh in on this question, and what challenges are you seeing with biomarker testing in the community setting?

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

Thanks very much for the question. Yeah, I think the use of precision medicine was initially touted as this opportunity to address care disparities, whether that’s in racial ethnic minorities, differences between academic and community practices, et cetera, by using the technology to try to determine treatment largely based on things like the genetic makeup of a tumor, and unfortunately, in reality disparities have sadly only continued to grow in the setting of targeted and/or testing related to things like ability to pay and insurance coverage for testing, mistrust in the healthcare system and historical injustices related to cancer care delivery. And there’s a significant discordance in literature between patients and clinicians understanding of the importance of biomarker testing relative to treatment planning.

So even now in 2023, as more states are passing legislation to expand coverage of comprehensive testing, we’re hearing from member programs of ACCC running up against increasing prior authorization restrictions and requirements, and there are unfortunate ramifications of that, like additional costs to programs or additional costs to patients, for example, in the setting of reflexive testing, there’s also a lot of ongoing data which suggests concerning continued racial disparities in rates of guideline concordant testing, so there’s a lot of opportunities for us to learn, yes, from what we have done in successful models of rollout of testing, but we’re still confronting some pretty major challenges and barriers, and I gotta say that’s true whether you’re talking about community programs and practices or academic partners as well.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

I really appreciate you adding that layer Dr. Boehmer. As someone who does a lot of work in health equity, I was just sharing prior to us recording that these disparities are pervasive, and now we’re learning it’s in lung cancer, and for all of the reasons that you stated, and it’s interesting that when we really start to look at our progress, and when we look at it by comparing different racial and ethnic groups, we find, as you stated, that sometimes the disparities actually widen.

And so it’s not that these aren’t great practices and precision medicine is a wonderful thing, but to your point, if we’re not ensuring that everyone has access to this new technology, then in fact, not only do we continue to see disparities, but sometimes that we inadvertently worsen them. So I appreciate you sharing that. Both of you have been on the ground floor of research in this area with regard to biomarker testing and availability and disparities. So I’d love for you to talk a little bit about the data and what does the data tell us with regard to biomarker testing? It’s important, some of the challenges that you both just stated, and so I’ll start with you this time, Dr. Boehmer.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

[chuckle] Thanks, I appreciate it. I’ve been privileged to work with both providers and patients’ caregivers, taking a closer look at some of the barriers and then practical solutions that might be utilized to address some of these concerns around testing. So back in 2021, ACCC used the mixed methods approach to try to understand the motivators of patients and providers, their practice patterns, their attitudes, the educational needs of patients and providers related to biomarker testing and beyond. And you know what’s really interesting, in almost 100 total provider respondents, less than half of community clinicians who responded said that they used biomarker testing to guide patient discussions.

And that was compared to nearly three-quarters of all responding academic clinicians, and it really made us start to think about…so, you know, the impetus for testing in the context of testing. In this particular research, to my earlier comments, we were actually targeting patients with non-small cell lung cancer who were uninsured, underinsured and/or covered by Medicaid. So dual eligible beneficiaries, and it was really interesting because we looked at why and how conversations were happening about biomarker testing between providers and patients, and really identified some tremendous opportunities for education around clinicians’ needs to become more familiar with guideline concordant testing and to have more practical applications of guideline concordant testing, so things like case-based examples, so then ultimately they could have optimal conversations with patients and help coordinate multidisciplinary care.

There’s also data which would suggest a disconnect between ordering testing after initial staging versus ordering testing at the time of initial biopsy. And, Dr. Wakelee, you said something that really resonated with me because if we can identify patients who need to be tested, if we can have access to testing, we still have a disconnect, and this is largely seen in community programs today where clinicians may be waiting 10 days, 14 days, even longer to receive results of testing, and you’re right, we have patients who need treatment initiated sooner than later, and you miss these opportunities because of delays, prior authorizations and a lot of other things, so the data certainly quantitatively, qualitatively is speaking to this hierarchy of problems and there’s definitely some mismatches between patient and provider perceptions of why testing happens, what it’s used for, and timing of the testing and results sharing.

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

That is fascinating, and we’re definitely going to get deeper into that, this whole patient-provider interaction, so I really appreciate you introducing that and thank you for all the research that your organization has done in this area. So, Dr. Wakelee, you’re on the academic side of things, and you also have been deeply involved in research in this area, so what would you like to offer from your perspective in terms of the data around biomarker testing?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Well, thanks, and, Dr. Boehmer, you have a very comprehensive answer there, I think that the differences between academic and community sometimes are broad and sometimes aren’t that big at all, and I do think we face a lot of the same challenges. It’s just…it’s making sure that when a physician is meeting with a patient, and let’s say it’s with the oncologist, that the oncologist is really mindful that any patient with non-small cell lung cancer could have a tumor with a driver mutation. I think it’s easy to stereotype and think that only certain patients are going to, and therefore we shouldn’t be testing everybody. And that gets dangerous. I think it also is a matter of where you’re in practice, and if you’re in a practice where the prevalence of the driver mutations and the tumors is low, you might just say, “Oh, I’m never going to see it,” and you stop testing, and that’s also very dangerous because we have seen in multiple trials, as we get back to that research question, that if we can identify a driver mutation…

And we know that more than half of patients who’ve developed lung cancer who have never smoked or have a light smoking history are going to have an actionable driving mutation, and even in people who do have a smoking history, of any ethnic background, they’re still 10 to 20 percent or maybe more as we identify more of these driver mutations, where that’s what’s really the force in the tumor, and if you find it and you can start someone on the appropriate targeted therapy, usually across multiple trials, the toxicity is less than you would get with chemotherapy or immunotherapy.

Usually the probability of response is over half, you know, if someone’s going to have a benefit that that’s going to help them feel better for a period of time in controlling their cancer, it really drastically changes their whole tumor outcome, they’re going to be living longer, feeling better, and ultimately that’s our goal when we’re helping someone with metastatic disease, and if you don’t know that the tumor has a driver mutation, you’re never going to give them that appropriate treatment, and I think that is the real challenge that we face, and there are multiple different angles to that, right? You have to have the physician aware of the importance of finding the mutation, altering the treatment as necessary, and giving that patient the best possible option for care.

But it also is making sure that the patients are open about this, because I think there’s still a lot of misperceptions about when we talk about driver mutations and the word mutation, making sure that people understand we’re talking about the cancer and not about the person. And in a short conversation that can sometimes be missed, and then people are afraid of getting tested, afraid of what that might mean for them or their family, and so the communication around, we’re going to test your tumor because your tumor might have a mutation that’s going to allow us to give different care. I think that’s really important that people always remember to talk about the tumor and not about the mutation in the person, that’s really, really critical.

And also to avoid that stereotyping about who do we test and who do we not test, pretty much anyone with a non-squamous, non-small cell lung cancer, their tumor needs to be tested, and many people who have a squamous cytology that’s also reasonable. So that’s the people aspect of it, the insurance barriers and the interpretation of the results, those are still there as well. And even if you have perfect communication and the patient understands and you get the testing done immediately, you still have to deal with, is it going to get covered or not? And the results come back, is it going to be interpretable or not? Because that can sometimes be tricky also. 

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Wow. I would say you two have really uncovered a lot of barriers, and it’s enough to make someone feel a little bit discouraged, I would say, however, because of the work that both of you are doing and so many others, we know that there indeed is hope. And so I’d love to shift a little bit. We’ve talked a lot about the barriers, which are many, what’s on the horizon or what positive trends have you all seen, and specifically what are the opportunities, what are some things that are either happening or that are being explored with regard to removing some of these barriers or all of the barriers that each of you have talked about? I’ll start with you, Dr. Wakelee, give us some hope.

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

All right. Great. Well, I think there is reason to have hope. Absolutely. There always is reason to have hope. And so many organizations, including ISLC, including ACCC, including NCC…I mean, you could name any organization that’s involved in cancer care and education, is really focusing on this issue of making sure that every oncologist knows the importance of doing biomarker testing for patients with non-small cell lung cancer, that we are trying to expand that not just to the oncologist, but also to the folks making the diagnosis, so they can be aware as well. Patient advocacy groups are very engaged in this as well, making sure that when someone is newly diagnosed, if they reach out to an advocacy group, one of the messages they hear is, have you asked about testing what’s happening with the tumor testing?

The more people who are aware that’s a standard of care in treating lung cancer, the more that’s going to happen, and then continuing to explore those financial barriers, and as more agents are FDA-approved, where that becomes a preferred first sign option, but you only know that if the testing’s happened, that leads to campaigning to make sure that the testing is being covered as well, you know, when you can argue, this patient isn’t getting the FDA-approved best care for their cancer because that testing wasn’t done, that’s a really powerful statement. And I think that’s what we’re seeing change happening.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

That is incredible, thank you. Thank you so much. I can smile again.

[laughter]

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

What about you, Dr. Boehmer? I know you’re getting…your organization is doing a lot of work in this area, so tell us about some of the advances, some of the improvements and tackling some of these barriers that both of you have elucidated today.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

So Dr. Wakelee, thank you for all of those hope-inducing concepts and methodologies, because I honestly believe that so many of us learn best today by seeing someone like me doing X, Y, Z, so I know I can do it as well. So I think it’s about documentation of justification of testing for prior authorization claims. I think it’s about working together with the multidisciplinary team, pharmacist, advanced practitioners, oncology-certified nurses to help manage that back and forth with testing and external pathology and laboratory companies, to make sure that results show up in the right spot in the electronic health record so that they can be interpreted, shared with patients, communicated and contextualized in real time. I think it’s about greater incorporation as we’ve seen across so many of our programs of the tenets of shared clinical decision-making, and how to have a meaningful conversation with a patient and/or their caregivers about testing and its role on treatment and drug selection, and outcomes, and progression-free survival. And there are a lot of programs out there that are doing bits of this or different points along that continuum.

ACCC for example, building on the research I shared before, recognizes that a lot of community programs don’t have kind of operational best practices for how to incorporate biomarker testing into a patient’s journey, and so for lung, and also, for example, for breast cancer, we’re working on creating care pathways which will help multidisciplinary clinician teams integrate discussions of biomarker testing and its impact at various critical time points along a patient’s diagnosis to treatment, to survivorship or end-of-life care. And those are just examples of us not being overly duplicative, but putting all the resources in one place, talking about timing, talking about when and how to have meaningful conversations, and then doing it with health-literate, vetted resources and through a lens of equity and shared decision-making, because you look like me, you had success with it. I’m going to do it for my at-risk patients as well, because one, it’s the right thing to do. And two, you taught me how to do it, and three, you told me what success looks like so I can measure myself against you, and that’s a successful model for scalability. 

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

That is wonderful. You both have nicely taken us into the next part of the conversation, and Dr. Boehmer, you just talked about shared decision-making, and as someone who works very closely with patient advocates and health advocates, it’s so important that any effort to improve care with regard to any disease or illness, it has to involve the patient and their family, so I really appreciate you all sharing that. So, with that in mind, and As we begin to think about how the patient-provider relationship and the patient-provider communication plays a role in addressing some of these barriers that we’ve been talking about and then making sure that patients are appropriately being tested and treated, I’d love to hear from you all regarding the role of the patient-provider partnership as it relates to biomarker testing. So, let’s see, I’ll start with you, Dr. Boehmer.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

So I really, really think this question is critical, and I’m going to bias by saying, an exciting new position on the multidisciplinary cancer care team that we are learning about it, some of our member programs, is that of a precision medicine steward or navigator. So if you’re at all familiar with the idea of a patient navigation service or the services provided by financial advocates or financial navigators, this is really identifying that it is getting so complex in the world of targeted testing, targeted treatments today, that it literally requires in some places and settings an FTE or multiple to try to navigate testing, pathology, external labs, medical oncology, pharmacy services, nursing administration, and then, of course, patients and caregivers, and communication and context building, working with patient advocacy groups who are out there publishing great resources on testing and what they mean and targeted treatments. But trying to put all of that together, I will admit as a community clinician, as you probably see 15, 18, 20 patients a day, sometimes with as many different discrete types of cancers, it gets overwhelming.

And so, having a support person on staff who can help you manage some of that information and the patient-provider conversations, ACCC is very, very much about recognizing multidisciplinary teams of providers, so it’s critical to have navigation, to have social work providing distress screening and psychosocial support, to have pharmacists talking about targeted therapies and how they match with, to Dr. Wakelee’s points, mutations and fusions and rearrangements and everything we’re testing for with our big panels of next-generation sequencing, right? So I really want to encourage us all to utilize as patients and as team members, everybody else on the team, which is also to say patients and caregivers, are team members too, right? They have rights and responsibilities as members of their own team. And I will end with this, I say all of this, and I feel justified in saying all of this because we’ve done research at ACCC, and without that critical infrastructure, there’s potentially a real disconnect. So, for example, we asked patients with lung cancer what resources would be most impactful for you as you embark on your treatment journey, and they said things to us like psychosocial support and financial assistance.

When we asked the provider respondents a similar question in their own survey, the number one thing they identified, they thought patients needed were educational handouts or websites to go seek information about their diagnosis. Now that’s not to shake a finger at anybody or to say that you were right or you were wrong, that’s just to say, we need people who can approach this whole patient-provider construct from different perspectives, because Leigh is going to ask different questions than Heather is going to ask, than Nicole is going to ask, and that’s the beauty of multidisciplinary care coordination. We do need to come at it from different angles, different perspectives, and always make sure we’re remaining open and inclusive and asking what patients need and want right now. Because we don’t always have the answers, we have to remember that. We’re human, we have biases, it’s always better to ask and provide and then ask again.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

You are really speaking my language, Dr. Boehmer.

[laughter]

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

And I see, Dr. Wakelee, both of us are shaking our heads the entire time that you’ve been speaking and just around this idea of multidisciplinary teams that include the patient and the family, and ideally at the center. Dr. Wakelee, do you have anything to add?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Hard to add. That was very impressive, Dr. Boehmer, [laughter] and highlighting that just…we talk about multidisciplinary sometimes, the first version, some people think of it’s just it’s a team of a few different types of doctors. And obviously that’s not at all what we’re talking about, this is to provide the best possible care for a patient dealing with cancer, that physician-to-patient interaction is critical, but the patient to physicians to family is critical. And then you’ve got to also think about all the psycho-social needs and whether that’s going to be with a social worker or… We have a lot of people working in oncology who are psychologists and psychiatrists particularly focused in that because the coping with the disease is such a big part of it. And it’s also the pharmacy teams and the nursing teams. It is…multidisciplinary is many, many different levels of circles, but at the core, it’s the patient and family and the primary physician, that’s kind of the way I think at it, but I’m an oncologist, so perhaps I’m a little biased in my viewpoint there.

But it’s that communication right there where you sort of have all of the information that the physician’s holding, that’s coming from all of the different treatment disciplines, and then you’ve got all the information that the patient’s holding, that’s coming from their understanding of them and all of their other aspects of their life, and that’s sort of that interaction at the core, and making sure that both sides are seeing each other and seeing all of the other layers of that, so that you could make sure that at each point the recommendations and what the patient is actually doing, everyone’s coming from a point of understanding. I think, to me, that’s the most critical piece. And you don’t have that understanding if you don’t also have all the information you need about the tumor, and you’re not making that right decision if you don’t have all the information you need about all the aspects of who that patient is as a person, and that goes into their decisions as well, and that’s to me, that’s what we’re aiming for, right? 

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Absolutely, you all have done such an incredible job really highlighting the importance of involving the patient and family, involving this multidisciplinary team, which as you said, Dr. Wakelee, it’s not just a bunch of different types of doctors. So before we conclude, I just want to talk a little bit about that communication, because most of you have shared how important that communication is, and we know that there are challenges, inside and outside of cancer with regard to communicating with patients, and certainly as a physician that some of the complexity of the topics that you all have discussed I would admit is even a lot for me, and so we can imagine that for someone without any medical training, this is very difficult, these topics of biomarker testing and genetics and mutations and precision medicine. So I’d love for you, Dr. Wakelee, to start by just sharing some best practices, things you’ve learned over the years with how can providers who are watching this program really engage in effective, thoughtful conversations with patients and their family members about biomarker testing?

Dr. Heather Wakelee:  

So that’s a great, great question. And really, the communication is to me, like I said, the core there, when I’m talking about biomarker testing with the patient, I usually try to frame it from the context of what makes the cancer different than the rest of you. And what we’re trying to figure out is what is it about the cancer that makes it different than the rest of you, so we can then target what’s different, and hopefully with that, being able to control the cancer without harming the rest of you. So that’s sort of one framework of it, and depending on the patient’s level of understanding, and then sort of layer in different levels of…for people who are understanding DNA and mutations, then you can start talking about those specifics, and for folks who don’t necessarily want to think about it that way, or haven’t had the education about it that way, then just starting from that framework. And I think about it this way too, is how is the cancer different than the rest of the person? And what can we do to therefore attack the cancer differently than we would the rest of the person?

And then from there, if there is a mutation or a translocation or something else that we found, can use the name of that gene and say, “This is different in the cancer than in the rest of you, and this is a targeted therapy that’s going to go after that, and it’s going to work for a period of time, but the cancer is always evolving.” And so we kind of plant that seed from the beginning also, that it’s not curing, that the cancer continues to evolve, and eventually it’s going to change in a way where that doesn’t work, but for right now, that’s the best treatment. So that’s how I’m going about with that communication with people on it. And then, again, I practice in Silicon Valley, so a lot of people will come in with books, practically, of all the research that they’ve done, and so that’s a very different conversation than someone who comes in and says, “Whatever you think is best, doc.” And even when I hear that, which I don’t happen to hear too often anymore, I really feel it’s critical that the patient is still understanding, why are we picking this treatment for your particular cancer, and what are our expectations from it?

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

I really appreciate the plain language, and I think that’s important, and also your acknowledgment that patients come to us with different levels of knowledge and expertise, and so really it’s about meeting them where they are, so I really appreciate that. And, Dr. Boehmer, we’re going to allow you to wrap up on this topic, I know that the Association of Community Cancer Centers has done research about what patients want to hear and some of the biases around providers, maybe thinking that patients don’t want or don’t need some of this information, that it may be too confusing for them, so I’d love for you to share some knowledge around your experience in this area and some best practices around communicating with patients.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

Thanks very much, I appreciate the opportunity, I’ll try and keep it targeted. I think number one, Dr. Wakelee, you’re correct. We have visual learners, auditory learners, we have people that want more direction and less direction, so simply starting by asking, how do you prefer to learn? It’s a wonderful place to start. It could be drawing pictures, it could be giving them that academic print out of literature published in a cutting-edge journal. But we need to know how patients learn and respect the fact that we’re all individuals and we as providers talking to patients may need to alter our approach based on different patients’ characteristics. I also think our research has shown that consistent terminology must, must be utilized, biomarker testing, molecular profiling, next-generation sequencing, mutation analysis, whatever it is, that you have decided to make your consistent terminology, please in your teams, then in the next level of teams, then in your health system, and then with your colleagues, talk about what it is, why it is, does it go against another group or is it in agreement with A, B, C groups. Because we have to, as a collective, really agree on and start utilizing consistent terminology, because until we do, we’re just continuing to stir the pot and cause confusion amongst patients, caregivers, other patient advocacy organizations and ourselves.

The other thing I’ll say, at ACCC, we’ve got a lot of resources aggregated in one place about shared decision-making, what it is, how to do it, how to assess yourself, health literacy, how do you evaluate your program to make sure you’re asking the right questions before you ever, ever have a conversation with a patient about biomarker testing or different targeted treatments for patients with non-small cell lung cancer? There’s little things that you can do today that’s so important. Little things you can do today that will make a positive influence on your patients’ outcomes and experience just by asking, addressing your own biases, being inclusive with your language and using consistent terminology. All of that is on our website and it’s truly incremental. Go easy on yourself, we’re all learning here, and acknowledging your bias and trying to be more inclusive is very, very worthwhile, and it’s okay if it’s small steps every single day made.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

A wonderful way to end this program. I have learned a lot as always, I’m sure that those of you watching have as well. We have talked about the challenges around biomarker testing on the clinician side, on the patient and family side, we’ve explored some amazing solutions to some of these challenges and barriers, and I just wanna really thank both of you for being here, and lastly, give you an opportunity if there’s something that you really feel like we should have talked about that we didn’t get to. Any closing thoughts or anything that you want to leave the audience with. And I’ll start with you, Dr. Wakelee.

Dr. Heather Wakelee:

Thanks. I think just to make sure everyone is always thinking, if you’ve got a patient and they’re coming to see you and they have lung cancer, that you’ve done the biomarker testing, that the patient understands about it, that you’ve had an opportunity to include that as part of the conversation whenever you’re talking about treatment.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Thank you, Dr. Boehmer.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:  

The only thing I would add is that if you’re thinking about creating resources, if you’re trying to target at-risk populations or communities in your area, please always, always remember to invite those individuals as you are talking, creating and disseminating. Because we don’t have all the answers, and that’s okay. I give you permission, but please invite people in and let them be a part of the discussion and the proposed solutions.

Dr. Nicole Rochester:

Wonderful. Well, thank you again to both of you, Dr. Wakelee, Dr. Boehmer, this has been an amazing conversation. And thank you again for tuning in to this Empowering Providers to Empower Patients program.

Dr. Leigh Boehmer:

Thank you.


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Methods to Improve Lung Cancer Physician-Patient Communication

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Methods to Improve Lung Cancer Physician-Patient Communication from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo

What are some ways to improve lung cancer physician-patient communication? Experts Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova and Dr. Jessica Bauman share methods they’ve used and potential ideas for future studies to improve care.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

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How Can Lung Cancer Experts in Academic and Community Settings Collaborate

How Can Lung Cancer Physician-Patient Communication Be Improved

How Can Lung Cancer Physician-Patient Communication Be Improved

What Guidelines Exist for Lung Cancer Genomic Biomarker Testing

What Guidelines Exist for Lung Cancer Genomic Biomarker Testing

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

I wonder if either of you or both of you have any thoughts around unique things that you’ve implemented that have allowed you to really connect and communicate with your patients in spite of these time limitations. Are there any unique things that you all have implemented in real time, like face-to-face, when communicating with patients?

Dr. Jessica Bauman: 

So I would say we did a pilot study that has not been implemented full time, and really I think we’re still working on how to best implement something like this but we did a pilot study using sort of educational materials, and this whole sort of pathway and educational system in coordination with our nurse navigators, where you could send sort of a prescription to the patient of reading material or of educational material, as they’re going along. And so, with the idea that early on that one of those prescriptions would be more information about molecular testing and biomarker testing, decision-making, all of those types of things.

We did a small pilot study to incorporate that, which on the surface is fantastic but it was surprisingly challenging to do, to actually implement. And I think that was…we were doing this, again, in collaboration with one of the researchers, the nurse researchers at our institution, and we hit more barriers than expected, because I think we all, as you say, we all want to educate, we all want to make sure that our patients understand and get the information that they need, but the practicality of doing that really successfully and in a streamlined way but that’s also consistent across providers across the institution, it’s a challenge.

Dr. Nicole Rochester: 

Yeah, I can imagine. Are there a chance to extend the pilot or to maybe modify it based on what you all learn from the initial study?

Dr. Jessica Bauman: 

I think that that’s…it’s certainly in discussion about how to best implement something like this. Part of that is…again, sort of systems change. The role of the clinic nurse, the nurse navigators has changed a little bit and so even how we envision implementation is going to need to shift somewhat.

Dr. Nicole Rochester

Wonderful. What about you, Dr. Bazhenova? Any pilot studies or any other maybe tips and tricks that you employ independently?

Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova

Yeah, we haven’t had any pilot studies but I think the more I think about it…so the challenge of discussing those molecular testing with the patients is the fact that majority of those molecular testing discussions happen in stage IV patients and majority of those discussions happen during the first visit for a patient with stage IV lung cancer where we just discussed that this is an incurable cancer with limited life expectancy. And then how much does our patient actually absorb anything else we said afterwards is still remain to be seen. And I actually have seen like when I talk to the patient because they are so understandably fixated on their prognosis and survival, because it’s going to affect their lives that after that my patient asked me a question that I know I’ve discussed it already because I have my spiel.

I tell the same thing to everybody. And I think now kind of thinking about it out loud after that, during that discussion and maybe we could set up another appointment with a nurse practitioner afterwards, that after the patient kind of already digested all that information, to go over again the management of the molecular abnormalities. And one thing I actually want to highlight and build upon something that Bauman said before, that in those patients we actually usually wait for the molecular testing to come back before we start their therapy. And it is much easier to just prescribe chemotherapy immunotherapy for those patients.

But then you’re going to run into issues of toxicity because if you gave immunotherapy before you give for example EGFR TKI and some ALK TKIs, you can actually going to run into toxicity and you can permanently prevent your patients from continue on tyrosine kinase inhibitors. And so that’s why this is an information that not all oncologists, especially those who practice in a tobacco belt where they don’t see a lot of oncogenic-driven patients, they might not be aware of that. And I think how do we pass that information to the physicians, and also how do we pass that information to the patients that there is an easy way, but easy way in this situation is not the right way. 


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A Look at Lung Cancer Expert Learnings From Tumor Boards

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A Look at Lung Cancer Expert Learnings From Tumor Boards from Patient Empowerment Network on Vimeo.

Lung cancer tumor boards can bring some key learnings to experts. Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova and Dr. Jessica Bauman share insights about multidisciplinary tumor boards and how information could potentially be shared with community practices.

See More from Lung Cancer | Empowering Providers to Empower Patients

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What Guidelines Exist for Lung Cancer Genomic Biomarker Testing

Transcript:

Dr. Nicole Rochester

Well, Dr. Bazhenova, I know that you lead a weekly tumor board for lung cancer, and I’d love to learn more about some of the things that you can share that may be insightful for other lung cancer experts as a result of the tumor board.

Dr. Lyudmila Bazhenova: 

At UC San Diego, we actually have two tumor boards where lung cancer patients can be presented, one is just a traditional multidisciplinary thoracic tumor board, which is attended by a medical oncologist, surgeons, radiation oncologist, pathologist, interventional people, clinical trial coordinators. And I think this is not unique to UC San Diego. The multidisciplinary tumor boards are available in all major academic institutions. And I think lung cancer care is becoming more and more multidisciplinary, especially with the new advances of new adjuvant to chemo-immunotherapy and controversies we still have to this point in management of stage III disease. And I think what I find in a multidisciplinary tumor board…

Because I think what I want to build upon as Dr. Bauman statement that she said that times of an essence here, and I think the multi-d tumor board help us make medical decisions on the spot rather than me sending a patient to see a surgeon or sending a patient to see radiation oncologist and sending patients to see interventional radiologist, and then the IR is telling you, “Oh, we can’t do that biopsy, you gotta send it to the pulmonologist.” I think that actually streamlines the patient care. The second tumor board what we have, that maturity of the lung cancer patients actually don’t get presented there, it’s a molecular tumor board. And the reason why we don’t present majority of the lung cancer patients there because management of antigen-driven lung cancer is pretty straightforward.

I think only presentations I would ever make there if they have an unusual mutation that I can’t find any information about, then I need the help of our molecular pathologist, but it is a good avenue for those weird rare molecular abnormalities that I’ve seen in other malignancies and so that is another option. And there’s actually…many institutions have molecular tumor boards as well. We do open our tumor board not to all communities. So we are not as good as you, Dr. Bauman. So only one community practice can join us because they’re kind of part of us, so we don’t usually…we don’t have it open to the whole community, and I think as an academic institution, we probably should strive to have an open tumor boards where everybody can join and listen and present and that’s the most important.

Dr. Jessica Bauman: 

I do want to say, we don’t..I must have misspoken, we definitely don’t include community practices. So I do think that that would be a fantastic offering in the sense of some of the…I don’t know that we could do that on a weekly basis, but consider something like on a monthly basis or even a quarterly basis of a true tumor board where people can present cases in real time from community practices. 


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