On this episode of the podcast, Terry and Bob discuss the potential of biomarker treatment for cancer. Biomarker testing looks for genes, proteins, and tumor markers that reveal information about the individual aspects of people’s cancer. Every cancer is unique and biomarker testing can provide an individualized treatment option that’s personalized and more effective. Biomarker tests help physicians identify specific treatment options a patient will respond to best based on biologic factors. Unfortunately, biomarker testing isn’t accessible for all patients.
They discuss the recent approval of a new biosimilar for the popular drug Humira and its potential to broaden access and reduce costs. And they highlight the potential of immunotherapy, a type of biologic therapy, to treat cancer. Immunotherapy is a type of cancer treatment that helps your immune system fight cancer. Numerous immunotherapy drugs have been approved to treat many types of cancer. However, immunotherapy is not as common as surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation therapy.
Terry interviews Hilary Gee Goeckner of the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network who explains why biomarker testing is so critical and how to expand access through policy to expand equity. She calls for widespread health coverage of individualized cancer treatment. She discusses the efforts to educate state legislators about the importance of biomarker testing and how it has the potential to make cancer a chronic condition. However, without broad access, this bright future may only come to those with good health insurance.
Patient Alecia Mandal shares how biomarker testing allowed her to receive immunotherapy for her colorectal cancer that she credits to her current health. She contrasts immunotherapy’s targeted approach to chemotherapy which merely kills everything in its path. She describes biomarker testing as almost miracle therapy and calls for broader equity and wider accessibility. It should be part of the standard of care for cancer, in addition to chemotherapy and radiation, without socioeconomic barriers. She points out how in the long run, biomarker therapy can save healthcare dollars by keeping people out of the hospital.