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the importance of biomarker testing

over the last two weeks we’ve shared lots of information about biomarkers and targeted therapies – but what does it all really mean? 

we wanted to show how important molecular profiling/biomarker testing is to guide treatment planning for patients. these graphics are meant to be informational [as some treatment options may be updated between us writing and you reading this post, some treatments listed are in combination with other treatments not listed for lack of space].

precision medicine refers, in part to the ability to provide a more personalized approach to treating cancer – and this is achieved, in part, by biomarker testing [BT]. biomarker testing allows healthcare providers to identify the specific molecular characteristic of the tumour and then use this to guide treatment planning for the patient.

when a patient receives the right treatment this usually results in less side effects, improved quality of life and survival.

precision medicine is a relatively new approach to treating cancer, and researchers and clinicians are at the cusp – with more and more research focusing on biomarker discovery and the development of targeted therapies.

below you will see some of the different cancers with some of their associated targets [biomarkers/mutations/molecular characteristics] and the targeted therapies that have been approved in canada.

in breast cancer for example, many different mutations [biomarkers] exist – traditional biomarkers such as HER2+, BRCA1, ER/PR+, and recently identified PIK3CA and PD-L1 allow clinicians to decide how to treat the patient based on the molecular profile. [again this is just informational]. what is interesting is how markers across different cancers appear – such as HER2+ across cancers and across genders.

we believe that within the next decade, precision medicine will completely transform how cancer care is delivered. but in order to achieve this we must start implementing precision medicine approaches now, including standardized guidelines to biomarker testing.

some of these therapies may have health canada approval but may not have received a CADTH recommendation or may not be on provincial formularies yet – contact your patient group to find out more.

current targeted therapies in breast cancer available in canada. many more are in clinical trails or under investigation

most of these therapies are for the treatment of non small cell lung cancer [NSCLC] *CT-clinical trail *SC squamous cell NSCLC BRAF inhibitors are given with MEK inhibitors

not all therapies have been approved by Health Canada at the time of publication *CT-clinical trial

CT- clinical trial


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