Oncology Central

Clinical RNA sequencing in oncology: where are we?


The term next-generation sequencing (NGS) is becoming increasingly familiar to clinical oncologists and those patients who are exploring options for addressing the most aggressive and intractable forms of cancer. With few exceptions, the analyte of choice for clinical next-generation sequencing is DNA, and the primary motivation for the test is to uncover a genetic variant predictive of response to a targeted cancer therapy. McKinsey & Company (CA, USA) has estimated that by 2018 up to 70% of lung cancer patients and 60% of colorectal cancer patients will have some level of DNA sequencing performed on their tumors [1]. The benefits of targeted therapy for those patients with a qualifying mutation are significant – a recent study found treating lung cancer patients with targeted therapies could increase progression-free survival by 18 months [2]. Still, even the largest gene panels fail to match the majority of patients to the US FDA-approved therapy, and most patients that are given genetically targeted therapies eventually progress and then seek other treatment options.

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