Report Sets the Stage for Molecular Oncology and Genetic Testing Across
TORONTO, Jan. 26 /CNW/ - Today, science allows us to examine a person's
genetic makeup and use their information to predict risk for some cancers,
give a diagnosis of cancer and determine how a patient will respond to
treatment; allowing for targeted therapies. This breakthrough field, called
molecular oncology, has evolved rapidly. To ensure Ontarians have access to
these services and the health system can meet demand, the Molecular Oncology
Task Force, sponsored by Cancer Care Ontario (CCO), released its report and
"As a key initiative of our 2008-2011 Ontario Cancer Plan, the report of
the Molecular Oncology Task Force is an important first step in ensuring
Ontarians have access to high quality genetic testing," said Terrence
Sullivan, president and CEO, CCO. "The advances in this field allow us to test
a person for predisposition to cancer and for treatment to be tailored to the
patient's cancer. It is imperative that our health system keep pace with these
developments by making these tests available in a safe and sustainable
Ontario has a strong licensing and quality assurance program in place for
most types of testing; however, the system has not kept pace with rapid
advances in genetics and molecular testing. The report has identified several
areas that need to be addressed including ensuring equitable access across the
province, consistency of standards and quality assurance, and a process for
introducing these new technologies.
While molecular oncology continues to be an area of exciting growth and
opportunity, genetics testing in cancer is a reality today.
"Genetic testing allows us to test eligible women's BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
to determine their likelihood of developing breast and ovarian cancer," said
Dr. Suzanne Kamel-Reid, chair of the Task Force. "For a patient with Chronic
Myeloid Leukemia (CML), genetic tests can identify the gene mutation enabling
doctors to provide chemotherapy using a drug that specifically targets that
particular mutation and kills the cancer cells."
"I am pleased with the diverse representation and high level of expertise
the task force has brought together," said David Caplan, Minister of Health
and Long-Term Care. "This important report helps us to understand the current
state of genetic testing and services."
Key Task Force recommendations include:
- Assigning an oversight body responsible for a test approval process
that evaluates clinical validity and utility, ensuring cost-
effectiveness strategies, implementing new technologies when evidence
warrants and delivering discoveries to patients quickly.
- Ensuring quality and patient safety by implementing a mandatory
approval process for each genetic test performed by laboratories in
Ontario for routine patient care, including: accreditation and
licensing of laboratories, and appropriately credentialed personnel.
- Educating providers and patients about molecular oncology and genetic
- Developing a sustainable system for evaluating and funding of new
cancer tests so that Ontarians have access to predictive tests and
targeted therapies that can be of great benefit to patients and cost-
effective for the system.
"We will continue to actively work with all of our partners to strengthen
the quality and safety of molecular oncology and genetics services and to
prepare the system for the future," added Sullivan.
Cancer Care Ontario is the provincial agency responsible for continually
improving cancer services. As the government's cancer advisor, Cancer Care
Ontario works to reduce the number of people diagnosed with cancer, and make
sure that patients receive better care every step of the way.
For more information visit www.cancercare.on.ca.
For further information:
For further information: Media Contact: Lenore Bromley, Sr. Public
Affairs Advisor, Cancer Care Ontario, (416) 971-9800 ext. 3383,