The annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology was held from June 1 to 5 in Chicago and attracted approximately 20,000 participants from around the world, including clinicians, academicians, allied health professionals, and others interested in oncology. The conference featured the latest advances in clinical cancer research, with presentations focusing on novel targeted therapies as well as improvements in chemotherapy and radiation therapy approaches.
In one study, Nathan A. Pennell, M.D., Ph.D., of the Cleveland Clinic, and colleagues found that next generation sequencing (NGS) was significantly less expensive for upfront lung cancer molecular testing compared to three strategies that evaluated other single tests for individual genes.
“Everyone with lung cancer, at least adenocarcinoma of the lung, the most common form of lung cancer, needs to have standard molecular testing before initiating treatment. It is well accepted that every patient at time of diagnosis with advanced lung cancer should have molecular testing done. However, every year there is a new molecular test that needs to be run,” Pennell said. “Therefore, we evaluated strategies for doing this type of testing to determine what approach had the lowest overall cost, provided the most information, and helped guide treatment most effectively. We tested four strategies for doing testing, including upfront NGS testing and three strategies that evaluated other single tests for individual genes.”
The researchers found that NGS was significantly less expensive, especially in the Medicare population, which saved between $1.3 to $2.1 million dollars compared to the other strategies. The investigators also found that turnaround time for testing results was less and the ability of patients to have their genetic alteration identified increased, which provided access to life extending drugs that other single tests missed because all the testing couldn’t be completed.
“I believe that most practitioners, oncologists, and pathologists should consider NGS as upfront standard of care for lung cancer pathology screening. It provides the fastest turnaround time, is the least costly, and provides the necessary information to make comprehensive medical decisions that can extend the life of patients,” Pennell concluded. “The issue is that there is a lag in acceptance from a payer perspective. We hope our study will push payers to understand that NGS is much more comprehensive and less costly to the health care system. Hospitals and pathology labs using other strategies should move toward NGS testing as well.”
Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.