Time to Accelerate. Access to Genomic Tumour Testing

26 January 2024 

Today, the European Cancer Organisation has published a new Action Report, Time to Accelerate. Access to Genomic Tumour Testing.

As part of its 2023 Community 365 roundtable series, ECO took the time with stakeholders to:

  • explore the current access landscape of genomic tumour testing in Europe;
  • better understand the infrastructure needed to achieve patient access to genomic tumour testing; 
  • consider how to assess the value of genomic tumour testing; and
  • formulate policy recommendations reflecting these considerations.

The results and conclusions of this exercise are today published via the new Action ReportAmong its nine key recommendations are:

  • Overcoming reimbursement barriers to genomic tumour testing access by:
    • Integrating reimbursement for therapies with associated tests; 
    • Enhancing understanding of the cost-effectiveness offered by targeted therapies by appropriate consideration of cost benefits that include reduction in adverse events, end-of-life care costs, and economic productivity gains associated to patients who are successfully treated.
    • Utilising the EU HTA regulation to support such a commonality in approach across countries.
  • Overcoming other barriers to genomic tumour testing access by learning from national best practices in Europe, including:
    • Developing and implementing national guidelines on genomic tumour testing, including on quality assurance of testing;
    • Coordinating expert centres in the provision of testing, laboratory and pathologist resource and knowledge transfer across a country; and,
    • Providing centralised bioinformatic support to cancer centres.
  • Giving attention to the knowledge needs of the range of oncology professionals involved in cancer care, and of the patient community in Europe more widely. This includes enhancing availability of information about what tests are available in which countries for which tumour types.
  • Resolving, with urgency, the difficulties presented by ongoing delay in implementing the IVDR regulation in full. 

Remarking on the report, the authors and Co-chairs of the October 2023 ECO Community 365 roundtable on genomic tumour testing, said:

"This timely report highlights the urgent  need to address the lack of equitable access to genomic tumour testing across Europe. Put quite simply - if we don't get genomic tumour testing right,  we deny our patients the opportunity to benefit from the latest breakthroughs in precision oncology  care and to be frank - this is just not acceptable". - Mark Lawler 

"One of the very important highlighted in this Action Report is the need to better respond to the desire of patients to have accurate information about what genomic tumour testing is available in their country for what tumour types. Without this, the ability of patients and their families to have informed discussions with health professionals about their treatment options is compromised and we are not respecting the rights of patients to participate in shared decision-making". - Patrycja Rzadkowska

See all nine policy recommendations, and the full Action Report here. Find the full recording and other information about the October 2023 roundtable here