Biomarker testing decisions for lung cancer vary by type of clinician. Fewer community oncology clinicians use biomarker testing.

Biomarker testing decisions seem to vary by type of clinician. Considerably fewer community oncology clinicians than academic clinicians use biomarker testing to guide discussions with patients with lung cancer, according to survey results.

Biomarker Testing Survey Findings

The findings — presented at International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC) World Conference on Lung Cancer — showed less than half of respondents in the community setting used biomarker testing to guide patient discussions about prognosis compared with nearly three-quarters of academic clinicians.

“Our study identifies key areas of ongoing clinician need related to biomarker testing, including increased guideline familiarity, practical applications of guideline-concordant testing and how to optimally help coordinate multidisciplinary care,” researcher Leigh Boehmer, PharmD, chief medical officer for Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), told Healio.

Advocacy groups and professional organizations should help develop impactful education materials and tools for improving clinician-patient conversations about biomarker testing, Boehmer added.

A report released last year by American Association for Cancer Research addressed disparities in management of patients with cancer. One section of the report focused on the “imprecision of precision medicine” due partly to limited understanding of the etiology and genetics of cancer within underserved racial and ethnic populations.

Factors That Contribute to Biomarker Testing Decisions

Several factors may contribute to disparities in biomarker testing. These include environmental factors, access to quality health care, insurance status, patient mistrust of the health care system, and the extent to which clinicians and patients understand the important role biomarker testing can play in treatment decision-making, according to study background.

“The use of precision medicine was initially seen as an opportunity to address known care disparities by determining treatment largely on the genetic makeup of a tumor or mutation,” Boehmer said. “In reality, disparities have only grown related to ability to pay/insurance status for testing, mistrust in the healthcare system, and discordance between patients’ and clinicians’ understanding of the importance of biomarker testing to treatment planning. Our study attempts to identify inherent barriers in the equitable offering of biomarker testing [for] patients with non-small cell lung cancer to recommend specific interventions that can be implemented to optimize care.”

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