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This year’s Biomarker World Conference
in Philadelphia heralded exciting new advances in cancer care—and emphasized the opportunities and challenges facing oncologists seeking to integrate these new predictive tools into practice. We know that having the ability to potentially predict the course of cancer in a given patient—based on what these biological molecules tell us about a patient’s response to one treatment, for example—is already changing the way we approach certain cancers (e.g., aggressive breast cancer). Yet, as our meeting coverage points out, it will take greater cooperation between federal regulators, the pharmaceutical and biotech industry, patient groups, and clinical oncologists to continue advances in the biomarker field.
It’s still early for many clinical oncologists to routinely test patients’ biomarkers—it’s expensive, not widely available, and may not yield easily understood results. Many physicians remain skeptical about the usefulness of such predictors, citing the need for tests that work in all (or at least most) patients and across the spectrum of cancers. This is why oncologists, with their direct access to this patient population, are particularly essential partners in clinical trial enrollment. More widespread use of these tools will only occur if they consistently produce results that are useful and offer greater treatment options.
In Oncology & Biotech News
, our goal continues to be keeping you, the practicing oncologist, up to date on clinical and research advances. This month’s coverage of the biomarker conference is one way we’re doing this. Please let us know which other meetings you’d like to read more about. If it’s important to those of you in the community, then we will cover it.