More than two decades of work in oncology have shown me that cancer, especially advanced cancer, is often—and understandably—frightening and overwhelming, but developing the right, measured plan is key to helping patients navigate their treatment journeys with more reassurance, confidence, and success. And in my first six months as CEO of Foundation Medicine, I’ve had the privilege of getting to see up close and personal the difference our work is making in the lives of cancer patients every day. At the heart of our company vision is the belief that patients should have access to genomic information about their unique cancer to make more informed treatment decisions with their doctors.
That is why I’m especially pleased to announce the launch of our Start with Step One campaign. Grounded in extensive experience, research, and partnerships in the cancer community, the program is designed to generate patient awareness and understanding of comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP), a genomic testing approach that can evaluate hundreds of potential mutations in a tumor with one sample. CGP can provide the genomic information that an oncologist can use to more quickly, confidently, and efficiently develop a personalized treatment plan, one based on the unique genomic profile of a patient’s cancer.
Right now, not enough patients are getting genomic testing or are even aware that this type of testing exists. Only about 15% of people with advanced cancer in the U.S. are getting CGP or multi-gene next generation sequencing, however in many cases, it’s often too late in a patient’s journey; about 25% are receiving single maker testing, which uses a sample to test for one specific mutation; and about 60% are getting no genomic testing at all. This means the majority of people with advanced cancer and their doctors aren’t getting critical information they need at diagnosis of late-stage disease to make more informed treatment decisions.1
And now, more than ever, the complex world of cancer care and increasing number of potential treatment options, including targeted therapies, immunotherapies, and clinical trials, demands a foundational need for a genomic roadmap. Over the past ten years, the late-stage oncology therapy pipeline has increased by 77% due to the increasing number of targeted therapies in development.2 What’s necessary to understand if a person is eligible for such treatments or clinical trials? Genomic testing.
Through our Start with Step One campaign, we hope to encourage critical conversations between patients and their healthcare providers so that more patients may have the option of exploring genomic testing with their doctors as part of their personalized care plans. I’m extremely proud of the work our teams have done to ensure that the campaign is more than just a catchy slogan. From inception to execution, we sought input from members of the broader cancer community every step of the way. We worked in partnership with our Patient Community Council of dedicated patient advocates and conducted extensive qualitative and quantitative research with patients, caregivers, and general population audiences. We also sought input from oncologists, nurses, and our network of partners and organizations who share our mission to support those who face, or will face, cancer. We truly appreciate their time and thoughtful contributions.
Although every patient’s journey is unique, we believe that they all have one thing in common: needing to know where to begin. This is why I believe Start with Step One is so important.