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Dr Melissa Johnson Discusses Barriers to NGS Testing in Lung Cancer


Melissa Johnson, MD, program director of Lung Cancer Research at Sarah Cannon, explains factors inhibiting uptake of next-generation sequencing testing among patients with lung cancer.

Many individuals are involved in the process of completing next-generation sequencing testing apart from just oncologists, said Melissa Johnson, MD, program director of Lung Cancer Research at Sarah Cannon.


Recent years have seen advancements in precision medicine for lung cancer, but access to genomic testing remains a barrier. What has been your experience?

It's such a complicated issue, access to testing. But one thing I know for sure is that there isn't an oncologist in the United States that doesn't understand the importance of NGS [next-generation sequencing] testing, and in particular for lung cancer patients in the front line. So the problems are multifaceted, and they include payers, they include turnaround time, the amount of tissue that's left and who's the steward of that tissue in the hospital when it needs to get to the clinic in order to be sent out for testing. There are a whole lot of other people that are involved in taking the cancer tumor tissue out of a patient and getting it to the right NGS sequencing lab. So to say that, it's just that oncologists don't know to order the testing, I think is really short sighted. And until we start to address some of these other barriers, among them the 14-day rule that still limits what testing I can do in my patients for 14 days after their diagnosis, we're going to continue to have the same problems.

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