As the use of biomarker testing options in the treatment of certain cancers continues to grow, so too do barriers to their use. Underpinning these barriers is a lack of understanding about how biomarker testing works and what impact it can have on selecting the most promising cancer treatment options.
Measurable residual disease (previously known as “minimal residual disease”) refers to the amount of cancer cells that remain during and after cancer treatment. Before the development of today’s advanced capabilities that can more accurately detect the presence of malignant cells, “minimal residual disease” referred to often inaccurate counts of the remaining malignant cells in a patient’s body. In contrast, measurable residual disease (MRD) is a more reliable report of a given patient’s remaining diseased cells.
Monitoring a patient’s MRD at various points throughout active treatment and into remission provides important personalized insights into the effectiveness of a given therapy and may be used to predict which patients are at risk of relapse. Testing for MRD can shape treatment choices and overall patient management to achieve better outcomes. Unfortunately, routine MRD testing is variable, and there are currently no standards for optimal MRD testing.
ACCC is conducting an educational project to create tools and recommend effective practices that multidisciplinary providers can use to successfully integrate MRD testing into their cancer care continuum—specifically for patients with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The project will provide information and guidance to members of multidisciplinary cancer care teams, including pathologists, oncologists, advanced practice providers, pharmacists, social workers, financial advocates, administrators, IT professionals, policy analysts, and other relevant specialists.
B-cell ALL was the first disease state with an FDA-approved treatment for MRD. This project will help lay the foundation for MRD testing in patients with B-cell ALL to create better-informed multidisciplinary cancer care teams. Ultimately, this work will showcase not only the importance of MRD testing, but also how it can be best integrated into the cancer care workflow.