Group calls for consistent use of genetic cancer terms

By The Science Advisory Board staff writers

July 9, 2020 -- A consortium of cancer patient advocacy groups and other stakeholders has recommended uniform use of common terms for biomarker and germline genetic testing to better educate the public and improve access.

In a white paper, the Consistent Testing Terminology Working Group noted that consistent use of consistent language will significantly improve patient awareness and understanding of potentially lifesaving testing options for new cancer diagnoses and progression or recurrences. Recommendations were developed across hematological and solid tumors and include the following:

  • Biomarker tests -- identify characteristics, targetable findings, or other test results originating from malignant tissue or blood.
  • Genetic testing for an inherited mutation and genetic testing for inherited cancer risk -- identify germline mutations.

The consortium, which includes 41 patient advocacy organizations, professional societies, pharmaceutical and diagnostics companies, and testing laboratories, was convened by the Lungevity Foundation, a Washington, DC-based nonprofit.

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