Biomarker testing has proved to be a highly valuable and necessary tool in precision cancer treatment, helping identify the most effective therapy for eligible cancer patients.
CancerCare, a leading national cancer support organization, conducted a biomarker testing survey in January 2023 that included 295 people who were diagnosed with cancer from 2019 to 2022. The CancerCare Biomarker Survey found that biomarker testing helped doctors tailor therapy for 93% of patients with cancer who were tested during that period, according to a CancerCare news release.
Biomarker testing, as the National Cancer Institute explains it, “is a way to look for genes, proteins and other substances (called biomarkers or tumor markers) that can provide information about cancer. Each person’s cancer has a unique pattern of biomarkers. Some biomarkers affect how certain cancer treatments work.”
Two in 10 cancer patients surveyed were able to avoid unnecessary chemotherapy and/or radiation, and 10% became eligible for a clinical trial thanks to biomarker testing.
But not everyone has access to biomarker testing. It can be prohibitively expensive for many patients, and health insurance plans may require prior authorization, in many instances leading patients to delay or forgo optimal cancer treatment.
In fact, a quarter of surveyed cancer patients said prior authorization posed a significant barrier to receiving timely testing and treatment, according to CancerCare.
Biomarker testing not only makes it easier for physicians to choose the most effective cancer therapy, but it may also help save patients money and time—and may result in better outcomes.
“Despite the fact that biomarker testing has dramatically changed the way cancer is diagnosed and treated, many insurers do not provide adequate coverage for the test,” Patricia J. Goldsmith, CEO of CancerCare, said in the news release. “Employers that don’t sufficiently cover this testing in their insurance plans create a real risk that their employees will not receive the most effective, and sometimes, lifesaving therapy.”
To help educate employers on the need to include comprehensive coverage of biomarker testing in employee benefits packages, CancerCare created a free Biomarker Toolkit.
To learn more about biomarker testing in Cancer Health, click #Biomarker. There you’ll see headlines such as “New Biomarker Classification May Improve Treatment of High-Risk Breast Cancer,” “Biomarker Test Highly Accurate in Detecting Early Kidney Cancer” and “5 Reasons to Ask About Biomarker Testing After a Lung Cancer Diagnosis.”