Experts issue updated guidelines for molecular diagnostic testing of patients with lung cancer

A panel of leading experts in molecular pathology has issued new recommendations and updates to guidelines for molecular diagnostic testing of patients with lung cancer. The new guidelines reflect recent advancements, as well as decades of work, to identify the genetic underpinnings of the leading cause of cancer-related deaths worldwide. They are intended to help guide the treatment of patients around the world, and help oncologists and pathologists match patients with the most effective therapies. Based on the panel's findings, published in The Archives of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, three leading medical societies-- the College of American Pathologists (CAP), the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer (IASLC), and the Association for Molecular Pathology (AMP)--have updated their 2013 evidence-based guideline.

"These guidelines are intended to help improve and standardize the care of all patients who suffer from this disease," said Neal Lindeman, MD, director of Molecular Diagnostics at Brigham and Women's Hospital. "Our panel of international experts reflects the global nature of lung cancer - we hope that these updated guidelines will help providers around the world better interpret the effectiveness of therapies that are designed to target an individual cancer's genetic vulnerabilities."

Lindeman led an international, multidisciplinary panel of expert authors appointed by each of the three organizations. The panel included pathologists, oncologists, pulmonologists, a methodologist, laboratory scientists and patient representatives who collaborated to develop the guidelines by following the Institute of Medicine's evidence-based process.

The panel's findings include 18 new recommendations and three updates. These include updated recommendations regarding testing for EGFR - a gene first uncovered by investigators at BWH and elsewhere that can help determine if a patient will respond to a targeted therapy. The panel has also issued new recommendations regarding testing for several additional genes (ROS1, ERBB2, MET, BRAD, KRAS, and RET) for certain forms of cancer, or, in the case of some of these genes, as part of a next-generation sequencing panel.

The complete guideline is available online. Additionally, the CAP, IASLC and AMP developed resources to help pathologists and oncologists review and implement the guidelines, including a summary of recommendations, a teaching presentation, frequently asked questions, and a video series.​

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