Next-generation sequencing in patients with advanced cancer: are we ready for widespread clinical use? A single institute’s experience

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The next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay targeting cancer-relevant genes has been adopted widely for use in patients with advanced cancer. The primary aim of this study was to assess the clinical utility of commercially available NGS. We retrospectively collected demographic and clinicopathologic data, recommended therapy, and clinical outcomes of 30 patients with a variety of advanced solid tumors referred to Foundation Medicine NGS. The initial pathologic examination was performed at the pathology department of the referring hospital. The comprehensive clinical NSG assay was performed on paraffin-embedded tumor samples using the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments-certified FoundationOne platform. The median number of genomic alterations was 3 (0–19). The median number of therapies with potential benefit was 2 (0–8). In 12 cases, a comprehensive clinical NGS assay did not indicate any therapy with potential benefit according to the genomic profile. Ten of the 30 patients received treatments recommended by genomic profile results. In six of the 10 cases, disease progressed within 2 months and four patients died within 3 months of treatment initiation. Three of the 30 patients benefited from a comprehensive clinical NGS assay and the subsequent recommended therapy. The median PFS was 12 weeks (95% confidence interval 10–57) in patients treated with molecularly targeted agents chosen on the basis of tumor genomic profiling versus 48 weeks (95% confidence interval 8–38) in the control group treated with physician choice therapy (P=0.12). Our study suggests that NGS can detect additional treatment targets in individual patients, but prospective medical research and appropriate clinical guidelines for proper clinical use are vital.

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