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New data reveal that 4 out of 5 breast cancer patients eligible for genomic testing are not told it is available to them

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Surprising statistics emerge from a European survey led by Cancer Patients Europe as part of its my Cancer my Concern (myC) initiative

Brussels, Nov. 21, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If you were diagnosed with cancer, you would hope you were being given the chance to benefit from the latest advances in the field of oncology. However, initial data from a recent patient survey conducted in five European countries by Cancer Patients Europe (CPE), with the support of Exact Sciences, demonstrate that the majority of breast cancer patients eligible for genomic testing did not even know that it was an option for them.

Genomic testing allows eligible patients with early-stage breast cancer the opportunity to benefit from personalised or precision medicine. Used as a therapy aid by physicians to tailor treatment plans to their patients’ individual cancers, genomic testing can help in some treatment decisions, including whether patients are likely to benefit from adjuvant chemotherapy. Therefore, it can spare many women with early-stage breast cancer from chemotherapy and the associated side effects. Despite the importance and growing utility of personalised medicine, the survey demonstrated that 59% of overall respondents had never heard about it. 

“The data show there is an urgent need to raise awareness and understanding of the value of genomic testing in breast cancer across Europe, amongst medical professionals, patients, policy makers and payers,” states Dr Fatima Cardoso, member of the myC Survey Advisory Committee and Director of the Breast Unit, Champalimaud Clinical Center, Lisbon, Portugal. “Genomic testing has proven its value with high evidence, and it is also cost-effective. However, it is not reimbursed nor easily available in many European countries.”

In addition, the survey data highlight the need for more information to be available to patients throughout their cancer diagnosis and treatment, especially from medical professionals whom they quoted as their preferred source of information. Specifically, respondents said they would have liked to receive more information on their type of cancer, additional testing, treatment options and long-term treatment effects.

“The results of the survey bring to light some shocking truths in the treatment and management of cancer patients across Europe,” said Conchi Biurrun, Board Secretary, CPE. “Cancer Patients Europe is dedicated to accelerating discussions with policymakers and other key stakeholders to raise awareness of genomic testing and ensure its implementation into routine clinical practice to help determine whether patients should undergo chemotherapy.” 

Dr Steven Bellamy, Chief Medical Officer, International, Exact Sciences, said, “we are delighted to support CPE’s myC initiative, a programme that is proving critical in our understanding of cancer care across Europe. As the data point to a significant gap in the knowledge of genomic testing, this collaboration supports an important shared goal: helping patients, and we are honoured to be a part of it”.

About the myC Patient Survey in Genomics and Breast Cancer

  • The 42-question survey was completed by a total of 1,383 respondents across five countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK) over a six-week period in September/October 2022. 
  • Eighty-three percent (83%) of respondents were breast cancer patients, 50% of whom were eligible for genomic testing.
  • Eighty-four percent (84%) of eligible patients stated they did not have enough information to make a decision on whether to take a genomic test.
  • Only a quarter (25%) of eligible patients took a genomic test.

About Cancer Patients Europe (CPE)

Cancer Patients Europe is a recently established pan-European, pan-cancer association. The association’s mission is to provide a balanced representation of cancer patients and their experiences across Europe, bridging the gap between European and national practice implementation and reducing the burden of cancer on patients and survivors, their caregivers, healthcare systems, and society as a whole.

About the my Cancer my Concern (myC) Initiative

myC is a CPE initiative which aims to raise awareness of the benefits and values of genomic testing in cancer. Personalised treatment decisions are key to this effort and genomic testing is an example of current progress in this area. The project is part of CPE’s broader goal to improve the management of cancer for patients across Europe and call European policymakers to action.

The myC initiative is supported by Exact Sciences, a cancer diagnostics company.

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