NGS pinpoints potentially actionable genomic alterations in cancer

March 16, 2021

A study of more than 1,000 patients seen at the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center showed that potentially actionable genomic alterations were found in nearly 80% of patients. And of the 130 patients who received sequencing-directed therapy, nearly 40% experienced some clinical benefit, with 20% experiencing exceptionally good responses – defined as keeping their disease under control for at least one year, according to a news release from the university.

The study recently appeared in JAMA Oncology.

Moreover, for patients with cancers of unknown origin, sequencing was able to decode the tissue of origin for the cancer in half of cases – giving doctors much better clues about what standard therapies, as well as targeted therapies, might help.

One of the most telling results of the study was that potentially inheritable cancer risk was identified in 16% of patients, said study first author Erin Cobain, MD, an oncologist at Michigan Medicine.

“Any family members who have also inherited those same mutations may be at increased risk for cancer,” she said. “So, a lot of this testing prompted downstream genetic testing and counseling across families. That’s how sequencing can have even more far-reaching impact than just looking for therapies to directly help a current patient.”

The study examined nearly seven years’ worth of data from 1,015 patients who participated in the Michigan Oncology Sequencing Program between 2011 and 2018. Today, more than 3,500 patients have had their tumors sequenced.

“Based on the data presented by Cobain et al and others, it is evident that such precision medicine strategies are especially fruitful in cancer types without clear standard-of-care options, such as carcinoma of unknown primary and other rare tumors,” the authors wrote.

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