Dr. Antonio C. Wolff from Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center Discusses the Importance of HER2 Testing
Antonio C. Wolff, MD, associate professor of oncology, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins Hospital, describes the importance of accurate biomarker testing. As an example he draws on his experience as a co-chair of the panel established by American Society of Clinical Oncology and the College of American Pathologists in 2007 to develop evidence-based guidelines for HER2 testing performance.
Wolff describes breast caner as a unique disease because of its many different phenotypes; including HER2 status changes. The need to identify HER2 amplification became extremely important in 2005 when trastuzumab was approved for HER2 positive early stage breast cancer. The accuracy of the test helps improve clinical outcomes by eliminating giving trastuzumab when there may be no benefit, essentially, as Wolff describes, as a toxic and expensive placebo. As biomarkers are further investigated the need to develop screening guidelines also needs to be developed.