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05 Jun 2019
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From theory to reality

  • Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre

For cancer patients, genomics can refine diagnoses and guide choices of therapeutic interventions to more precisely treat disease and minimise unnecessary interventions. State and federal governments are investing funds and developing new policies and frameworks to guide and prioritise development in this area.

Yet genomic testing is still out of reach for most Victorian cancer patients. Unless you are eligible for a limited number of Medicare-funded genetic tests that are specific to cancer type, or for a research study or clinical trial, or willing and able to self-fund your testing, there is no system to enable genomic testing to be integrated into standard clinical cancer care. 

The VCCC’s Precision Oncology Program is working to change this but we need the help of oncologists and staff involved in cancer surgery, biopsies, pathology and tissue sample management to make it happen.

Building a bridge to routine clinical care

A team of experts from across the VCCC alliance have developed a protocol based on clinical criteria for enrolling and testing selected patients using either a Comprehensive Cancer Gene Panel or Whole Genome Sequencing. The protocol has received ethics approval covering the University of Melbourne, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre, Melbourne Health, the Royal Women's Hospital, Western Health, St Vincent's Hospital Melbourne and Austin Health.

This protocol describes a system that allows for multi-disciplinary, flexible clinical decision-making to enrol patients for genomic testing rather than fixed eligibility criteria (as would be usual for a specific research study or clinical trial). In May 2019, the first eligible patients with advanced cancer were enrolled through the new system for genomic testing at the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre.  

Over the next 12 months, we will evaluate the feasibility of the system, including the viability of providing the comprehensive, complex genomic data obtained through the system to treating clinicians.

The program will also evaluate the impact of tumour genomic sequencing results on clinical treatment decisions.

Ultimately this program will inform the processes and systems that will integrate cancer genomics into routine clinical care in Victoria.   

Be part of the solution

This is a unique opportunity for VCCC alliance member clinicians and health staff to provide input and influence a program of work that will shape cancer genomic services in Victoria. 

To find out how you can get involved in bringing the power of genomic testing to many more Victorians, please contact: Imogen Elsum, VCCC Program Manager on imogen.elsum@unimelb.edu.au.