ESMO Study Confirms Precision Oncology Remains Largely Inaccessible to European Cancer Patients

July 18, 2023

As a European umbrella organisation, DiCE is vocal in addressing the disparities associated with cancer patients’ access to precision medicine across Europe. A recently published study in the Annals of Oncology, by the European Society of Medical Oncologists (ESMO) confirms the deepening gaps in the accessibility of personalised therapies within European countries.

Advanced biomolecular technologies, such as biomarkers for targetable mutations, next-generation sequencing (NGS), and complete genomic profiling, offer targeted treatment options and improved outcomes for patients with cancer. The ESMO study provides a comprehensive overview of the availability and accessibility of biomolecular technologies to patients by examining their prescription and use, barriers to access, along with cost and reimbursement-related issues.

Working with 201 field reporters across 48 European countries, data was collected via electronic survey between July and December of 2021. Their findings show that basic, single-gene techniques such as immunohistochemistry, PCR, microsatellite instability, and fluorescence and chromogenic in situ hybridisation are widely available in clinical practice, but advanced technologies such as NGS panels and tumour mutational burden (TMB) remain heterogeneously inaccessible in clinical practice across Europe and individual countries. These technologies are occasionally part of routine practice in a few high-income EU countries but are most often limited to clinical trials or basic research in low- and middle-income countries. Highly comprehensive technologies such as whole genome or RNA sequencing, genomic assays, and liquid biopsies remain accessible only through clinical trials or basic research in high-income countries.

The greatest barriers remain the reimbursement of tests and treatments and the availability of novel medicines.

The study concluded that reforming accessibility to biomolecular technologies is paramount in ensuring transformative cancer care for all Europeans.

Read the publication HERE.

Natasha Muench

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