BRCA Mutations Point to Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome
Although all cancers have a genetic basis, a subset result from an inherited (i.e., germline) mutation that puts a person at increased risk for certain cancers. Unfortunately, the signs of hereditary cancer are often overlooked or misunderstood. Here’s what oncology nurses need to know about BRCA mutations, one of the more common mutations you’ll see in practice.
Understanding Genomics and Using Precision Medicine to Advance Cancer Survival
During the American Association for Cancer Research/ONS Bench to Bedside session at the 43rd Annual Congress in Washington, DC, Victor Velculescu, MD, PhD, of Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Maura Kadan, RN, MSN, of Personal Genome Diagnostics, dissected the science behind precision oncology, including an understanding of genetic alterations, the use of immunotherapy, and how to advance survival with these clinical breakthroughs.
NIH Wants 1 Million Americans to Contribute to New Pool of Gene Data; FDA Takes Action Against Misleading Companies Marketing to Kids; Conservative Groups Hope to Release New Obamacare Replacement This Month
With hopes for more than 1 million participants, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched the All of Us initiative, a radical precision medicine campaign to amass a collective gene pool data repository. The NIH is aiming to shrink our differences and expand on the similarities found in our genetic data. For some, compiling genetic data of an entire country’s citizens may sound very reminiscent of Big Brother from the book 1984. But the amount of information that could be shared and learned from such a massive health database is remarkable.
FDA Approves Dabrafenib Plus Trametinib for Adjuvant Treatment of Melanoma With BRAF V600E or V600K Mutations
On April 30, 2018, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted regular approval to dabrafenib (Tafinlar ®) and trametinib (Mekinist®) in combination for the adjuvant treatment of patients with melanoma with BRAF V600E or V600K mutations, as detected by an FDA-approved test, and involvement of lymph node(s), following complete resection.
How DNA Revolutionized Oncology Care
April 25, 2018, marks National DNA Day. Why the hype? National DNA Day commemorates the successful completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003, and the discovery of DNA's double helix in 1953. Without DNA, understanding the diseases and treatments for cancer would be nearly impossible. Genetics and genomics play huge roles in treating malignancy, and it’s crucial to the care of patients with cancer for oncology nurses to understand genetics and genomics.
Labs Differ Widely in BRCA Testing Protocols
An international survey of 86 genetic testing labs showed inconsistent protocols and standards for analyzing the BRCA1 or 2 cancer susceptibility genes and their variations. The results were reported in NPJ Genomic Medicine.
NIH Completes In-Depth Genomic Analysis; Senate Panel Unveils Draft Opioid Bill; Teenagers Struggle to Quit Vaping
Researchers for the PanCancer Atlas, a genomic data set reference tool, recently completed an analysis of molecular and clinical information from more than 10,000 different tumors spanning more than 33 cancer types. The PanCancer Atlas is the result of nearly a decade’s worth of work associated with the Cancer Genome Atlas—a multi-institutional program driven by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The results of the analysis were published as a set of 27 papers.
FDA Authorizes Direct-to-Consumer Test for BRCA Cancer Gene
Genetic testing is becoming more recognized among the general public, due in part to news reports and celebrity endorsements. Now, people are seeking to understand cancer risks and prevention measures through genetic information. There are many companies that ask for a mere mouth swab and deliver insight into a person’s DNA. As this becomes more commonplace, those with familial predisposition to cancer will look for ways to understand their own genetic results. Recently, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved an at-home test identifying some—but not all—breast cancer genes.
Oncology Nurses Play Key Role in Genetics Education, Testing for Patients
Identifying genetically predisposed women with breast cancer who could benefit from risk assessment and genetic counseling is an important competency for oncology nurses. However, a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology (JCO) reported that fewer than 50% of newly diagnosed patients with breast cancer who should have been given formal genetic counseling actually received the appropriate genetic testing.
Newly Approved Cancer Treatments Indicate Growing Role of Genomics and Oral Therapies
It is becoming more commonplace for nurses to find orders for agents with which they are unfamiliar or quite possibly have never administered. Following is a summary of the latest new U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approvals or indications to keep you up to date in your practice. Of note, this summary contains the approval of yet another biosimilar in trastuzumab-dkst and rolapitant for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, which includes a safety alert. Early experiences with rolapitant, a NK-1 inhibitor, indicated a risk of hypersensitivity reactions.
Oncology Nurses Can Help Patients Understand At-Home Genetic Testing
Direct-to-consumer genetic testing (DTCGT) has entered the prime-time stage. It’s difficult to watch TV without seeing ads touting the simplicity of DTCGT and what it can tell you, and it even made Oprah’s 2017 Favorite Things List.
What Oncology Nurses Need to Know About Pharmacogenomics
A subset of precision medicine, pharmacogenomics, is also growing exponentially, especially in oncology. Currently, 165 drugs or combinations are influenced by pharmacogenetics, and 58 of those are specific to oncology/hematology.
NIH Funds Precision Research for Childhood Cancer; Will Congress Lift Medicaid Ban for Opioid Epidemic?; FDA-Approved Breast Cancer Test May Impact Oncology Nurses
Cancer treatments aren’t one-size-fits-all, and they differ greatly depending on age. As the leading cause of disease-related death for children, pediatric cancers pose a critical threat to this population. According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), one reason pediatric cancer mortality rates persist is because there’s “limited knowledge” related to the biological mechanisms affecting childhood cancers. NIH-funded studies are breaking ground and uncovering new information about the genomics of pediatric cancers.
The Case of the Cancer Genetics Referral
Christina is a 29-year-old African American woman with a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancers and a personal history of benign ovarian fibroids. She was referred to your office because of a suspicious lump in her left breast. Because of her family history, Christina is especially worried. You are concerned that Christina could have a hereditary family cancer syndrome, and you know that a comprehensive family history must be obtained.
NIH: A Look Back at 2017 in Research
To plan for a strong future, one must understand the past. Reviewing the previous year’s accomplishments is always a good policy for reflection and improvement. It can help remind us of the accomplishments achieved in 12 short months. Such was the case at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as director Francis Collins addressed the research achievements for 2017 in his opening blog.
FDA Clears Genomic Profiling Tests for Cancer Treatment
Former National Institutes of Health (NIH) Director, Harold Varmus, when asked about cancer treatment, once said, “One of the major advances we’ve had as a result of cancer research is deep recognition of the complexity of cancer. It’s not one disease, it’s lots of different diseases. Every single cancer is different when you look at it on a genetic level.”
Latinas With BRCA1 or 2 Mutations Are More Likely to Choose Surgery
The uptake of prophylactic surgeries among Latinas with germline BRCA mutations may be slightly lower than what has been reported in non-Hispanic whites but higher than in African Americans, a group of U.S. researchers said. They presented their findings on Saturday, December 10, during a poster session at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
Enrichment of Mucin Gene Family Shown in Breast Cancer Diagnosed During Pregnancy
The first study on the mutational landscape of breast cancer diagnosed during pregnancy (BCP) using whole-genome sequencing found that BCP is associated with a higher number of putative driver mutations, including mutations in mucin genes. Researchers presented their findings on Thursday, December 7, during a poster session at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.
FDA Grants Marketing Approval to FoundationOne CDx In Vitro Diagnostic
On November 30, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted marketing approval to the FoundationOne CDx, a next generation sequencing based in vitro diagnostic to detect genetic mutations in 324 genes and two genomic signatures in any solid tumor type.
Study Finds How Smoking Contributes to Epigenetics of Lung Cancer
Although cigarette use has long been linked to lung cancer, scientists have not understood how the earliest changes in lung cells developed. In a study published in Cancer Cell, researchers showed how cigarette smoke sensitized airway cells to genetic mutations that are known to cause lung cancers.
The Case of the Slow-to-Manifest Side Effects
Mary, age 60, has been diagnosed with stage IIB ovarian cancer. Because she has a strong family history of various cancers, Mary is tested for Lynch syndrome, also known as hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC).
Her test is positive, and she is told she is at increased risk for developing cancers associated with HNPCC: ovarian, breast, prostate, kidney, endometrial, pancreatic, prostate, and liver.
Why Oncology Nurses Need to Embrace Genetics
Genetics in clinical oncology nursing practice permeates all aspects of care from prevention and detection to treatment decisions to long-term survivorship care. Each of these areas often overlap, and oncology nurses need a solid genetics understanding to provide optimal care.
Researchers Map More Than 760 Cancer-Dependent Genes
In an effort to build a comprehensive catalog of genetic causes of cancer, researchers from Harvard and Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Broad Institute as well as Dana-Farber Cancer Institute have identified more than 760 genes that cells from multiple types of cancer depend on for growth and survival. The findings were published in Cell.
Sanders Gains Support for Single-Payer Health Care Push; GOP Senators Put Forth Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill; New Toolkit Helps Nurses Integrate Genomics in Cancer Care
Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) recently gave an interview for The Nation to discuss his announcement and subsequent push for a single-payer healthcare system in the United States. During his 2016 presidential bid, Sanders campaigned for universal health care and gained significant support from the public. However, many on Capitol Hill were still unsure of a “Medicare-for-all” plan. Despite the initially tepid response, Sanders recently outlined a new single-payer healthcare bill he plans to introduce, and he’s gaining surprising support from several senators in Washington, DC.
FDA Approves First Single NGS Test to Detect Multiple RAS Mutations
On June 29, 2017, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted marketing approval to the Praxis Extended RAS Panel (Illumina, Inc.), a next generation sequencing (NGS) test to detect certain genetic mutations in RAS genes in tumor samples of patients with metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC). The test is used to aid in the identification of patients who may be eligible for treatment with panitumumab (Vectibix®, Amgen, Inc.).
Genomic Information Helps Guide Successful Therapies for Each Patient
The healthcare landscape is changing more rapidly than ever, and daily discoveries in genomics are leading to truly individualized care. During a session at the 42nd Annual Congress in Denver, CO, David Solit, MD, Geoffrey Beene Chair and director of the Marie-Josée and Henry R. Kravis Center for Molecular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC), reviewed cutting-edge genomics science, its role in precision medicine, and innovative genomics programs at his institution. Solit leads a research program that seeks to identify new drug targets using genomic profiling.
Local Organizations Can Make a Big Difference in Cancer Care
I have the privilege of managing and being the sole provider in a unique program. I work in the Hereditary Cancer Program at Saint Louis University Cancer Center, where I provide risk assessment services and education about genetic testing to individuals and families in the region. It’s an amazing nursing role, and I can truly help people prevent cancer and manage their risk.
More Women Undergo BRCA Testing, but Not High-Risk Patients
BRCA gene testing is on the rise for women who do not meet the referral requirements based on family history, researchers reported in study findings published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. At the same time, many high-risk women do not obtain the test and remain unidentified.
Genetic Screening Tool Identifies Women With BRCA Mutations Who May Have Been Otherwise Missed
Researchers sought to assess the value of breast imaging centers (BICs) as potential clinics to identify women who are at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) and increase the number of appropriate referrals for genetic assessment. The researchers’ hospital-based BIC serves mostly low- to middle-income patients in a major metropolitan area. They developed a practical screening tool based on the National Comprehensive Cancer Network HBOC screening and testing guidelines and prospectively screened patients. The researchers presented their findings at the ASCO Annual Meeting.
Gene-Editing Tool May Better Deliver CAR T-Cell Immunotherapy
In mouse experiments, researchers have found that immune T cells that have been genetically engineered to express chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) using a new tool called CRISPR were more effective than CAR T cells that were engineered with conventional methods. The findings were reported in Nature.
The Story of Henrietta Lacks Sheds Light on Ethical Considerations in Genetic Testing
Imagine a situation where a patient’s tumor cells were used for countless scientific experiments—without the patient’s informed consent. Safeguards are in place today to prevent such an ethical breach, but in 1951 Henrietta Lacks and her family weren’t as lucky. Author Rebecca Skloot shared Henrietta’s story in a 2010 nonfiction book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, that was adapted into a movie released on April 22, 2017.
FDA Approves Marketing Ipsogen JAK2 RGQ PCR Kit to Help Evaluate Suspected Polycythemia Vera
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has granted marketing authorization to ipsogen JAK2 RGQ PCR Kit, manufactured by Qiagen GmbH., to detect mutations affecting the Janus Tyrosine Kinase 2 (JAK2) gene. This is the first FDA-authorized test intended to help physicians in evaluating patients for suspected Polycythemia Vera (PV).
Advancements in Immunotherapy, Genetics Lead ASCO’s Annual Progress Report
Every year, oncology research marches toward new, innovative treatments for patients with cancer. Cancer research is a cumulative process—building upon itself year after year—but, with time, major changes begin to make their way into practices across the country. Some of these advancements stand to change the face of cancer treatment for years to come. In a field of constant evolution, oncology nurses and their colleagues need to stay abreast of developments in science and technology as new knowledge is uncovered in the treatment of cancer.
The Case of the Breast Cancer Biology
Molly is a 48-year-old biology professor at a prestigious university. She was recently diagnosed with stage II invasive ductal carcinoma. She is referred to Anna, the breast nurse navigator, for breast cancer education and coordination of care.
New Genetic Test May Predict High-Risk Cervical Cancer
A new genetic test that analyzes multiple sources of DNA may be able to detect high-risk cervical cancer more accurately than other available tests: it showed 90.9% sensitivity in identifying cervical intraepithelial neoplasia 2 lesions. The findings from the proof-of-concept study were reported in Cancer Prevention Research.
How Do You Bridge Oncology Nurses and Genetic Counselors?
Thyroid Cancer Treatment’s Changing Landscape Brings New Hope to Patients
NIH Conducts Largest Study of Breast Cancer Genetics in African American Women
NCI New Partnership to Expand Genomic Data for Cancer Moonshot Initiative
Genetic Testing Is Important for Survivorship
Cancer survivorship is filled with many challenges, hopes, and expectations. June 5 marks National Survivorship Day, and survivorship is being celebrated throughout the month. Survivors are often not sure where they're going once their cancer journey commences. In my practice, I care for people with a genetic risk for cancer, and I work with survivors on a regular basis.
Study Links Bladder Cancer Subtype to Breast Cancer
Sometimes Waiting Is the Best Decision
Last fall, I was walking with my dog at our cabin in the Ozarks of Missouri. I had my camera. I came to a clear area, and, on a dead tree, I spotted a large bird and then another. For some reason, Maggie, our energetic Lab mix, was quiet. I watched the birds from a distance and took a series of photos. Then, without warning, all of these birds started to fly away.