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Biomarker Testing in Personalized Treatment Selection for Metastatic Colorectal Cancer

To support quality improvement (QI) projects in mCRC (metastatic colorectal cancer), the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC) has partnered with Pfizer Global Medical Grants to award $1.5 million in funding for QI projects that are aimed at improving the integration of biomarker testing in personalized treatment selection for patients with mCRC.

The grant awards will provide an opportunity for community oncology programs and practices to implement initiatives that address barriers to biomarker testing in mCRC and the reasons for lack of adherence to current guideline-based testing recommendations. Grantees will utilize innovative approaches to extend best practices to a much larger patient population, including underserved minority patient groups. As part of the project, sites will review their progress and, in particular, evaluate how changes in biomarker testing practices impact treatment decision-making.

In a survey of community oncology practitioners conducted by ACCC to assess the status of biomarker testing in patients with unresectable or metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC), over 70% of respondents reported that more than half of their patients undergo biomarker testing. However, over 40% of respondents reported that patients with mCRC who have had biomarker testing are treated with systemic medical therapy “frequently” or “almost always” before all biomarker test results are available. Fifty-two percent of respondents (52%) indicated that their cancer program has no standard biomarker testing protocol for patients with unresectable or mCRC.

Challenges to the optimal use of biomarker testing include patient factors (e.g., patient’s general health and physical fitness, patient preference, insurance coverage, clinical trial eligibility, and patient age) and practice factors (e.g., insufficient tissue for testing, poor tissue quality, long turn-around time, patient refusal, quality of in-house testing, difficulty getting reimbursed, lack of availability of in-house testing, access to molecular tumor board, and adequate staffing).
Summary of Survey Findings

The following five institutions were selected for grant funding:

  • Blessing Cancer Center, Illinois
  • Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center at Northwestern Medicine, Illinois
  • Piedmont Healthcare Network Cancer Program, Georgia
  • Sanford USD Medical Center, Sanford Cancer Center, South Dakota
  • University of Maryland, Kaufman Cancer Center at Upper Chesapeake Health, Maryland

For more information on this project, please contact the ACCC Provider Education department.

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