Put to the Test: Empowering Genomics to Improve Cancer Care and Patient Lives

22 February 2022

The European Cancer Organisation (ECO) has published a Report: “Put to the Test: Empowering Genomics to Improve Cancer Care and Patient Lives”. Highlighting the opportunities that genomic tumour testing can provide, the report provides recommendations from experts in the field about the ways in which access to such technologies can be improved. The report reflects discussions and debates held within a special high-level roundtable on the subject at the end of 2021.

“Put to the Test” aims to provide helpful guidance and information to interested stakeholders and policy-makers in order to embed genomic tumour testing as standard of care for European cancer patients.

The Report also sets out four key asks for European attention to achieve the potential of genomic tumour testing to guide better therapy for cancer patients, improve their survival and enhance their quality of life. The asks are to:

  1. Improve collaboration between cancer centres as an important means to pool resources and improve patient access to genomic tumour testing
  2. Enhance consistency in national approaches for reimbursement of, and access to, genomic tumour testing across Europe
  3. Improve collection and use of data, including for cost-benefit considerations
  4. Ensure connected infrastructure and address workforce needs, through investment, education and training

Connected to all of these, the report recommends the establishment of new EU recommendations on genomic tumour testing to facilitate concrete policy action towards national implementation.

The report also suggests that genomic tumour testing should be given due attention as part of the ongoing implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, such as the update of EU recommendations on cancer screening, the new EU Network of Comprehensive Cancer Centres and the EU Cancer Inequalities Registry.

Prof Andreas Charalambous, President of the European Cancer Organisation, said: “While genomic tumour testing is a key technological development in improving the precision of cancer care, its full utilisation can be compromised by challenges in accessing such technology. This means that not all patients can benefit from such an advancement in the field. Increasing access also means ensuring we have the infrastructures ready for its provision. As today’s report makes clear, the readiness of the oncology workforce itself is a critical part of that. This means investment in training and education, and stronger workforce planning.”

Dr Matti Aapro, Immediate Past-President of the European Cancer Organisation and Co-Chair of the Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on Genomic Tumour Testing, said: “As an oncologist, I have seen how sequencing technologies can make a difference for the care of cancer patients. The scientific promise is there, but what ultimately matters is to deliver it to patients. This should not be a new area of inequality. Our recent Roundtable is a good example of stakeholders from many sectors coming together to discuss and share openly about what is pragmatically required to deliver on the promise of a new technology.”

Prof Mark Lawler, Board Member of the European Cancer Organisation, Chair in Translational Genomics at the Queen’s University Belfast and Co-Chair of the Community 365 Roundtable Meeting on Genomic Tumour Testing, said: “Genomic tumour testing is clearly one of the keys to unlocking the enormous potential of precision medicine in cancer. This report, produced based on discussions between the best experts in the field, highlights the need for the European Union and its Member States to ensure real-world patient-centric implementation of genomic tumour testing as a matter of urgency. Otherwise, we are not delivering the best standard of care for our patients.”

Download the Report here.

Put to the Test: Empowering Genomics to Improve Cancer Care and Patient Lives