Cancer Patients Can Now Read a Molecular Analysis of Their Cancer That They Can Understand
Perthera, Inc., a full-service precision medicine company, has developed a report empowering cancer patients to make informed decisions regarding their treatment options. Perthera began distributing this innovative report to patients, which it believes to be the first of its kind, on February 10, 2017.
“The whole point of precision medicine is to tailor treatment to the specific needs of the patient. But patient-centric care isn’t fully possible unless the patient has a very clear understanding of their situation. Our new report is a unique way of outlining complex cancer treatment options to patients, and we’re extremely proud of it,” said Andrew Mignatti, Perthera CEO and President.
Until this report was developed, patients received a report created for medical professionals and their treating oncologists, which was often 50 pages long. Perthera’s Director of Operations, Kimberly Mason, was very aware of patients’ frustrations with the previous medical report.
“One of the most significant parts of our process is to produce a Precision Cancer Analysis(PCA) that provides a complete molecular analysis of their tumor. The report, and the specific recommendations it provides, often becomes central to the oncologist’s treatment strategy. So, naturally, patients want to gain a better understanding of the report. Unfortunately, that knowledge has not been easily attainable,” said Mason.
According to Mason, the solution is based on organizing the report not by scientific or medical issues but by personalized treatment options.
“Perthera marries biological, computational, and human expertise to identify three broad treatment options: clinical trials, off-label treatments, and standard treatments. Our new report tells patients about those options in terms very specific to their unique cancer. Through this process, we empower and educate the patient on how they can plan for future treatment and what they can expect,” Mason said.
For example, when discussing the patient’s option to engage in a clinical trial, the new report explains that the trials are studies of new treatments undertaken to find out how well the new treatment works and what the side effects may be. Doctors only suggest a clinical trial for their patient when they believe the new experimental treatment may work better compared to options currently available. Perthera’s new report names specific clinical trials identified by the PCA that the patient should discuss with their doctor, whose more complete version of the report also includes trial locations and contact information.
Similarly, the report specifies examples of off-label treatments they can discuss with their doctors. Off-label treatments are not approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the patient’s type of cancer but are approved for treating other cancers. The treatment may work for the patient’s cancer because it has the same molecular “target” as the type of cancer it’s approved to treat. The report also identifies standard treatments they may discuss with their doctors.
Mignatti explains that the specificity of the recommendations provided by the PCA are based on the most current information available about the largest universe of medical options.
“With some 900 new treatments being developed for cancer patients, the only way to obtain recommendations based on up-to-the-moment research is through a PCA report,” Mignatti says.
Perthera’s patient coordinators, medical professionals, and software engineering team worked with cancer patient advocacy organizations, which Perthera partners with, to ensure the report is both easy to understand and accurate.
“We have long believed that there is a need for a new model of patient care in the precision medicine environment. We’re trying to innovate that model based on the premise that information is power, and this new report reflects that philosophy exactly in delivering patient-centered care,” stated Mason.