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1 July 2016

posted Jun 30, 2016, 5:50 AM by Beck Lockwood   [ updated Aug 2, 2016, 7:14 AM ]

Tumour profiling could guide gynaecological cancer treatment decisions

 Researchers at the University of Leeds are working with the National Institute for Health Research Diagnostic Evidence Cooperative Leeds on a new study to investigate whether use of molecular profiling techniques results in oncologists changing the treatment they provide to patients with gynaecological cancers.

Molecular profiling offers a way of studying the precise and unique makeup of an individual tumour. This information can help physicians tailor treatments to each patient and is already being used successfully against several types of cancer.

The Leeds team will be using a tool developed by the US-based company, Caris Life Sciences, that can create a profile of each tumour, detailing specific molecular and genetic information. By identifying the particular biomarkers that characterise the tumour, Caris is able to create a list of potential treatments for physicians to consider.

In the Leeds study, led by Dr Geoff Hall, a Senior Lecturer within the Leeds Institute of Cancer & Pathology and an Honorary Consultant at the Leeds Cancer Centre, 72 patients will be recruited from five hospitals across Yorkshire. Patients are eligible if they have a recurrent gynaecological cancer or where the best chemotherapy option is less certain. Consultant Oncologists will select a care plan for each patient prior to receiving the tumour profile information and then decide, after reviewing the profile, whether that plan should be adjusted.

Physicians taking part in the study are not guided towards any particular treatment decision. The aim is to examine whether molecular profiling information generated by Caris will affect their treatment decisions – and to see what effect those decisions had on the treatment outcomes.

Importantly, patients can only be offered treatments that are currently accessible to them as part of usual NHS care, so the study is assessing whether the tool is able to help physicians optimise available treatment.

“Molecular profiling is potentially a huge opportunity to improve outcomes for cancer patients. Our aim is to investigate whether this tool can be used for gynaecological cancers,” says Dr Chris Jones, an Academic Clinical Fellow working with Dr Hall to deliver the trial.

“The concept of ‘personalised medicine’, where each treatment is tailored precisely to an individual patient is rapidly gaining momentum,” added Dr Jones. “Molecular profiling tools can provide physicians with detailed information about the tumour that they can use alongside other data about the patient and about their previous treatment to put together the best possible care plan.”

Dr Hall and his team will use the results of this study to design further research looking in to whether selecting a care plan based on the results of a molecular profile affects the survival and quality of life of patients with gynaecological cancers.