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Peter B. Bach

Because lung cancer frequently presents in an advanced stage when it is incurable, there has been a sustained search for an early diagnosis approach that could detect lung cancer when curable, while having few secondary consequences. Decades of research have evaluated various approaches to lung screening, including routine chest radiograph, sputum cytology, and, most recently, computed tomography (CT) scanning. No study has suggested that any of these approaches will identify life-threatening lung cancers at an earlier disease stage and allow alteration of their natural history. Therefore, no recommending body or professional society recommends using any of these approaches to screen for lung cancer. This general recommendation could change if randomized trials examining CT screening suggest that its benefits outweigh its harms.

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Yvonne Bombard, Peter B. Bach and Kenneth Offit

There is increasing enthusiasm for genomics and its promise in advancing personalized medicine. Genomic information has been used to personalize health care for decades, spanning the fields of cardiovascular disease, infectious disease, endocrinology, metabolic medicine, and hematology. However, oncology has often been the first test bed for the clinical translation of genomics for diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic applications. Notable hereditary cancer examples include testing for mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 in unaffected women to identify those at significantly elevated risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers, and screening patients with newly diagnosed colorectal cancer for mutations in 4 mismatch repair genes to reduce morbidity and mortality in their relatives. Somatic genomic testing is also increasingly used in oncology, with gene expression profiling of breast tumors and EGFR testing to predict treatment response representing commonly used examples. Health technology assessment provides a rigorous means to inform clinical and policy decision-making through systematic assessment of the evidentiary base, along with precepts of clinical effectiveness, cost-effectiveness, and consideration of risks and benefits for health care delivery and society. Although this evaluation is a fundamental step in the translation of any new therapeutic, procedure, or diagnostic test into clinical care, emerging developments may threaten this standard. These include “direct to consumer” genomic risk assessment services and the challenges posed by incidental results generated from next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. This article presents a review of the evidentiary standards and knowledge base supporting the translation of key cancer genomic technologies along the continuum of validity, utility, cost-effectiveness, health service impacts, and ethical and societal issues, and offers future research considerations to guide the responsible introduction of NGS technologies into health care. It concludes that significant evidentiary gaps remain in translating genomic technologies into routine clinical practice, particularly in efficacy, health outcomes, cost-effectiveness, and health services research. These caveats are especially germane in the context of NGS, wherein efforts are underway to translate NGS results despite their limited accuracy, lack of proven efficacy, and significant computational and counseling challenges. Further research across these domains is critical to inform the effective, efficient, and equitable translation of genomics into cancer care.

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Peter B. Bach, Stephen B. Edge, Linda House, Jennifer Malin, James L. Mohler and Clifford Goodman

As part of the NCCN 20th Annual Conference: Advancing the Standard of Cancer Care, a distinguished and diverse group of experts on value-based decision-making in oncology discussed guidelines and pathways and how their use has impacted bedside evidence-based decision-making for both physicians and patients. Moderated by Clifford Goodman, PhD, the roundtable also reflected on the criteria used to assess shared decision-making and the relationship between outcomes and cost when determining value.

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Pranammya Dey, Angela K. Green, Michael Haddadin, Peter B. Bach and Aaron P. Mitchell

Background: NCCN produces highly influential disease-specific oncology clinical practice guidelines. Because the number of women in academic oncology has increased, we assessed whether the composition of NCCN Guidelines Panels reflected this trend. Methods: Using historical guidelines requested from NCCN, we investigated time trends for female representation on 21 NCCN Guidelines Panels and analyzed the trends for female-predominant cancers (breast, ovarian, uterine, and cervical) compared with all cancers. Results: From 2013 to 2019, there was an increase from 123 women of 541 total panelists (22.7%) to 175 women of 542 panelists (32.3%). Within the 4 female-predominant cancers, the increase was more rapid: from 30 of 101 total panelists (29.7%) to 66 of 118 panelists (56.4%). Excluding female-predominant cancers, increases were minimal. Conclusions: There could be multiple explanations for these differing trends, including the possibility of more rapid increases in the underlying pool of female physician-scientists in female-predominant specialties or more efforts to increase the representation of women in decisions about the standard of care in cancers predominantly affecting women.

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Aaron P. Mitchell, Sara M. Tabatabai, Pranammya Dey, Jennifer A. Ohn, Michael A. Curry and Peter B. Bach

Background: The cost of cancer treatment has increased significantly in recent decades, but it is unclear whether these costs have been associated with commensurate improvement in clinical value. This study aimed to assess the association between the cost of cancer treatment and 4 of the 5 NCCN Evidence Blocks (EB) measures of clinical value: efficacy of regimen/agent, safety of regimen/agent, quality of evidence, and consistency of evidence. Methods: This is a cross-sectional, observational study. We obtained NCCN EB ratings for all recommended, first-line, and/or maintenance treatments for the 30 most prevalent cancers in the United States and calculated direct pharmacologic treatment costs (drug acquisition, administration fees, guideline-concordant supportive care medications) using Medicare reimbursement rates in January 2019. We used generalized estimating equations to estimate the association between NCCN EB measures and treatment cost with clustering at the level of the treatment indication. Results: A total of 1,386 treatments were included. Among time-unlimited treatments (those administered on an ongoing basis without a predetermined stopping point), monthly cost was positively associated with efficacy ($3,036; 95% CI, $1,782 to $4,289) and quality of evidence ($1,509; 95% CI, $171 to $2,847) but negatively associated with safety (–$1,470; 95% CI, –$2,790 to –$151) and consistency of evidence (–$2,003; 95% CI, –$3,420 to –$586). Among time-limited treatments (those administered for a predetermined interval or number of cycles), no NCCN EB measure was significantly associated with treatment cost. Conclusions: An association between NCCN EB measures and treatment cost was inconsistent, and the magnitude of the association was small compared with the degree of cost variation among treatments with the same EB scores. The clinical value of cancer treatments does not seem to be a primary determinant of treatment cost.

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Saul N. Weingart, Elizabeth Brown, Peter B. Bach, Kirby Eng, Shirley A. Johnson, Timothy M. Kuzel, Terry S. Langbaum, R. Donald Leedy, Raymond J. Muller, Lee N. Newcomer, Susan O’Brien, Denise Reinke, Mark Rubino, Leonard Saltz and Ronald S. Walters

Oral chemotherapy is emerging as a new option for well-selected patients who can manage potentially complex oral regimens and self-monitor for potential complications. If a choice between oral and parenteral therapy is available, patients may opt for oral chemotherapy because it is more convenient to administer, allows them to avoid multiple office visits, and gives them a sense of control over their own cancer care. Whether these potential advantages are maintained in regimens that combine oral and parenteral drugs is less clear. The use of oral chemotherapeutic agents profoundly affects all aspects of oncology, including creating significant safety and adherence issues, shifting some traditional roles and responsibilities of oncologists, nurses, and pharmacists to patients and caregivers. The financing of chemotherapy is also affected. To address these issues, the NCCN convened a multidisciplinary task force consisting of oncologists, nurses, pharmacists, and payor representatives to discuss the impact of the increasing use of oral chemotherapy. (JNCCN 2008;6[Suppl 3]:S1–S14)