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Breaking the Barriers to NGS Testing in Oncology Care: Physician-Reported Strategies

2021 Year in Review - Non–Small-Cell Lung Cancer - Lung Cancer

Despite the rising use of next-generation sequencing (NGS), there are still several obstacles to overcome. A study was performed to uncover physician-identified barriers to NGS adoption, as well as preferred techniques for overcoming these obstacles and improving cancer clinical care.1

A nationally representative sample of oncologists, surgeons, and pathologists (N = 201) were issued a cross-sectional online survey with closed- and open-ended questions. The poll gathered information on the challenges of NGS testing as well as prospective methods for improving its translation into clinical practice.1

Although 99.5% of physicians utilize NGS, 80.1% also describe obstacles to its usage, such as funding issues, a lack of awareness of NGS, and a lack of evidence of therapeutic benefit. More than 60% of physicians surveyed thought all of the offered solutions for overcoming these obstacles were effective; however, the relevance of each tactic varied by specialty. Surgeons prioritized improved communication among multidisciplinary healthcare teams (88.0%), pathologists prioritized greater instructional content (84.4%), and oncologists prioritized expanding testing coverage (84.0%). Hiring professionals with necessary abilities, expanding patient education, and updating technology were among the lower-priority proposals for improving NGS utilization.1

In a separate study, perceived barriers to NGS utilization similarly varied by specialty, reflecting the distinct roles that these professionals play in patient care. Oncologists and hematologists, who are more likely to be involved in long-term patient care, were most concerned with finding ways to expand technology coverage, whereas surgeons and pathologists were more concerned with improving awareness and teaching.2

The findings illustrate the many roles that specialists play in patient care. Various options for overcoming each barrier were discovered, demonstrating the necessity of the multidisciplinary clinical pathway in oncology care. Given the varying needs of different specialties, it is critical to involve physicians in the formulation of multipronged strategies to remove testing hurdles.1 Many patients’ clinical cancer therapy is now informed by tumor molecular characterization. The growing number of therapeutic biomarkers that potentially predict sensitivity to licensed and investigational treatments has fueled the rise of molecular oncology. Large-scale clinical genomics in cancer is a rapidly developing resource for translational scientific discovery in addition to its significance in driving clinical trial enrollments and guiding therapy in individual patients.3 The important role of NGS testing in the future of cancer treatment and other diseases is clear; breaking the barriers to testing is an important step in improving patient outcomes.

References

  1. Kaminski A, Szamreta E, Shah R, et al. Physician-reported strategies for overcoming barriers to NGS testing in oncology care. Ann Oncol. 2021;32(suppl 5):S1221-S1222.
  2. Kaminski A, Szamreta EA, Shah R, et al. Barriers to next-generation sequencing despite increased utilization: U.S. physician survey results. J Clin Oncol. 2021;39(suppl 15):Abstract e18754.
  3. Donoghue MTA, Schram AM, Hyman DM, Taylor BS. Discovery through clinical sequencing in oncology. Nat Cancer. 2020;1:774-783.
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