There Is a Need to Identify Patients Most Likely to Benefit From Immunotherapies, Says Dr Alonso V. Pacheco

New immunotherapies are changing the shape of oncology care, but there is also a need for a system that provides these high-quality therapies to the patients most likely to benefit from them. This might mean doing an assessment and a deeper dive into patient functional status, says Alonso V. Pacheco, MD, medical director and medical oncologist/hematologist, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers.

New immunotherapies are changing the shape of oncology care, but there is also a need for a system that provides these high-quality therapies to the patients most likely to benefit from them. This might mean doing an assessment and a deeper dive into patient functional status, says Alonso V. Pacheco, MD, medical director and medical oncologist/hematologist, Rocky Mountain Cancer Centers.

Transcript

As more targeted therapies, personalized treatments, and immunotherapies come to market, how well are they being integrated into everyday practice and making their way to patients?

The truth is that patients are being screened for actionable mutations every day. I'd say most patients have a chance of benefiting from that if they do. I think immunotherapy has changed the face of oncology. We have patients that would have for sure died had they not received immunotherapy, and now they walk into our clinics, unimpaired by their cancer and living a full life, continue to work and provide for their families in their 60s. And it's made a dramatic impact. We all see that.

I think that's what we're trying to do, making sure that we still have a system that can provide high-quality therapies for those patients that are likely to benefit from it, but also give patients a real understanding of what other therapies are and also reach deeper into patients’ functional status and do, at least the beginning, a comprehensive geriatric assessment, which is the [Cancer and Aging Research Group (CARG) Chemotherapy Toxicity Tool calculator]. When you're asking those questions about whether they can walk a block and whether they can take their own medicines at the right time, those have far-reaching implications.

What's behind being able to take your medicine at the right dose at the right time? It kind of is a surrogate for grip strength, whether you can open a pill bottle. I asked the patient about that today. She was like, “Well, my grip is too weak to open a pill bottle. So, now I asked my pharmacist to give me a pill bottle that doesn't have childproof covering on it.” That was a question I wouldn’t have asked 6 months ago, and I think being a leader in this pilot has made a difference.

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