Precision oncology, which uses genomic testing to create effective and individualised treatment plans for patients, is widely recognised as the way of the future for cancer care. But like many transformative research discoveries, there’s a long road ahead before it is embedded in routine care.
Over 200 experts in cancer genomics from around the country came together on Friday 28 April for the inaugural Victorian Precision Oncology Summit 2023, coordinated by VCCC Alliance and Monash Partners Comprehensive Cancer Consortium (MPCCC), supported by the Victorian Government as Platinum Sponsor.
A wide range of stakeholders spanning clinical care, research and consumers came together for the annual event, which presents a unique opportunity to identify new opportunities to synchronise activities with a shared goal of improving cancer outcomes for all Victorians.
The focus of Friday’s summit was equity of access to molecular testing, which has been a critical roadblock to offering personalised testing to every patient.
Consumer Victoria Sharp revealed how genetic testing helped her survive a second bout of ovarian cancer: “With the knowledge of my genetic status, the support of my treating oncologist, and access to clinical trials, we were able to match my cancer with an effective treatment targeted to my genomic status.
“I was lucky, but we need to take luck out of the system.”
In the opening address, VCCC Alliance Executive Director, Professor Grant McArthur acknowledged the complexity of the issue and a shared determination to work with government and stakeholders to forge a path ahead.
“Today, we come together as a sector to explore how we can address system barriers to equitable access to precision oncology and take the first step in developing a roadmap that will help us keep pace with our international standards.”
Notable keynote speakers set the scene:
The Victorian Government was represented by The Hon. Tim Richardson MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health Infrastructure and Mental Health, who shared his excitement for what the summit could achieve.
“It gives me goosebumps to see this type of collaboration in cancer.”
Attendees formed discussion groups to tackle different equity of access challenges before sharing their findings back to the room in a panel discussion.
The importance of shared responsibility and raising awareness for both clinicians and patients were clearly a requirement for the path forward, as were standardisation and centralisation of reporting, central data collection, improved frameworks and guidelines, and revisiting funding schemes to further remove financial barriers to individualised testing for patients.
The insights gathered at the summit will be used to inform a new roadmap to improve equity of access to molecular testing in the future, ultimately leading to more equitable care for more Victorians affected by cancer.
Register now for the May meeting of the VCCC Alliance Precision Oncology Forum.