Patient interest, willingness to pay out of pocket costs for tumor genetic profiling assessed by Fox Chase researchers

CHICAGO (May 21, 2015) — Although recent survey participants expressed an interest in comprehensive tumor genetic profiling (CGP)—a novel technology to help identify mutations in pathologically relevant cancer genes for targeted therapy—the participants with lower income, less education, and non-private insurance were less likely to pursue CGP if out-of-pocket costs were involved, according to recent study findings.

Lead study author Julie Innocent, MD, a hematology/oncology third-year fellow at Fox Chase Cancer Center, will discuss these findings during a poster presentation on Monday, June 1 during the 2015 American Society of Clinical Oncology conference in Chicago.

"Identification of potentially targetable mutations through comprehensive tumor genetic profiling is changing the face of cancer care,” Dr. Innocent said. “This technology allows for personalized therapy that is specific to each patient's tumor biology.”

In order to better understand patient awareness and their perceived value of CGP, Innocent and colleagues, including faculty mentor Michael J. Hall, MD, MS, director of gastrointestinal risk assessment and associate professor of medicine at Fox Chase, studied interest and willingness to pay out of pocket for patients receiving active treatment at Fox Chase. In total, 88 patients with diverse cancer histology were recruited by the researchers to complete a 20-minute survey. In addition to assessing demographics, cancer stage/treatment, and financial considerations, the researchers queried patient awareness of and interest in CGP by using findings adapted from their previously conducted research.

Of the patients surveyed, 61% were aware of CGP and 67% indicated they believed CGP could improve their treatment. Overall, 79% were interested in CGP, with greater interest in younger participants and those with private health insurance. Patients with less than a high school education were not as likely to pay out of pocket for any costs beyond those covered by insurance. In contrast, individuals with an income of more than $50,000 and private insurance were more likely to pay out of pocket. A willingness to pay at least $500 was associated with white race; having more than a high school education; an income of more than $50,000; and private insurance, according to the researchers.

“Our study begins to investigate which factors impact our patients’ interest, understanding and utilization of the CGP technology,” Dr. Innocent said. “CGP can greatly expand the therapeutic options for our patients. Thus, discovering what limitations our patients face is the first step in making this powerful tool more accessible to more people."

Fox Chase Cancer Center (Fox Chase), which includes the Institute for Cancer Research and the American Oncologic Hospital and is a part of Temple Health, is one of the leading comprehensive cancer centers in the United States. Founded in 1904 in Philadelphia as one of the nation’s first cancer hospitals, Fox Chase was also among the first institutions to be designated a National Cancer Institute Comprehensive Cancer Center in 1974. Fox Chase is also one of just 10 members of the Alliance of Dedicated Cancer Centers. Fox Chase researchers have won the highest awards in their fields, including two Nobel Prizes. Fox Chase physicians are also routinely recognized in national rankings, and the Center’s nursing program has received the Magnet recognition for excellence six consecutive times. Today, Fox Chase conducts a broad array of nationally competitive basic, translational, and clinical research, with special programs in cancer prevention, detection, survivorship, and community outreach. It is the policy of Fox Chase Cancer Center that there shall be no exclusion from, or participation in, and no one denied the benefits of, the delivery of quality medical care on the basis of race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity/expression, disability, age, ancestry, color, national origin, physical ability, level of education, or source of payment.

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