New Studies by Intermountain Healthcare’s Intermountain Precision Genomics Reveal that Precision Medicine Improves Survival in Advanced Cancer Patients without Increasing Costs
Posted by: Andro Hsu 05/29/2015

Studies to be Released at American Society of Clinical Oncology's Annual Meeting on May 29

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, May 29, 2015 Two new studies conducted by Intermountain Healthcare’s Intermountain Precision Genomics reveal that precision medicine can improve survival in advanced cancer patients – and do so without increasing costs. While the results affect only stage four cancer patients in the latter weeks of life, the improvement is pronounced and lends hope that further improvement can be realized going forward. The studies will be published in abstract form through the annual meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) in Chicago.

Intermountain Healthcare, an internationally recognized, integrated healthcare system spanning 22 hospitals and 185 physician clinics, is at the forefront of personalized cancer treatment through Intermountain Precision Genomics. Led by Lincoln D. Nadauld, MD, PhD, and Derrick S. Haslem, MD, Intermountain Precision Genomics in St. George, UT, is the only integrated healthcare system in the nation with the capability of testing and providing treatment for the greatest number of actionable gene mutation types, offering the most advanced next-generation sequencing available.  In addition, Intermountain is typically able to gain access to limited distribution and specialty drugs for its patients.

Intermountain Precision Genomics’ expertise is enhanced by the fact that Intermountain Healthcare has the nation’s largest biorepository, started in 1975, which stores more than three million tissue samples used for the advancement of cancer and other research.

At Intermountain Precision Genomics’ in-house laboratory, experts analyze the DNA and genetic makeup of a cancer patient’s tumor, enabling detection of the individual genes with errors in a person’s cancer to determine treatment options. The testing is proprietary to Intermountain Healthcare but access to it is available to oncologists anywhere. The testing serves patients with stage four cancer who have failed a traditional treatment method. 

Following are the two new studies that Intermountain Precision Genomics will present at ASCO on May 29:

“Precision Medicine To Improve Survival Without Increasing Costs In Advanced Cancer Patients – This study finds that “progression free survival was 22.9 weeks for the treatment group and 12.0 weeks for the historical control group (p = 0.002). Patients receiving precision cancer medicine compared to conventional treatment patients had a hazard ratio of 0.47 (95% confidence interval of 0.29-0.75) when adjusting for age, gender, histological diagnosis and previous treatment lines. Costs per week were $3204 in the targeted group and $3501 in the control cohort (p = 0.385)” The study concludes, “Precision cancer medicine appears to significantly improve survival for patients with advanced cancer when compared to control patients who received conventional chemotherapy. The additional survival is not associated with increased healthcare costs. While the results of this study warrant further investigation in the setting of a prospective randomized control trial, this genomics-based approach appears to be a viable, and perhaps superior, option for patients with advanced or metastatic cancer.”

Implementation of a precision cancer program in an integrated health care system – This study finds that “243 patients with a variety of tumor types have had NGS performed on their tumor as part of our precision cancer clinic. 188 patients (77%) had actionable mutations. This resulted in a treatment change to the targeted drug in 117 patients (62%). In addition, 38 patients (20%) have targeted options available, but are awaiting disease progression through their current treatment. Our drug navigation system has successfully obtained drug for 155 patients (82%) through insurance approval, appeals processes or clinical trials.” The study concludes, “Although barriers to precision cancer clinics exist, they can be overcome in the community setting through appropriate implementation of NGS, access to a MTB and a drug procurement process. In the era of personalized medicine, this model offers improved access to genomic medicine for advanced cancer patients outside of the academic setting.”

“These results are significant and encouraging,” said Dr. Nadauld, Medical Director of Intermountain Precision Genomics. “They underscore the value of precision medicine to patients today, offering increased survival without increasing costs.”

“The challenge now is to build on these results,” added Dr. Haslem, Director of Medical Oncology at Intermountain Precision Genomics. “The direction that these studies reinforce has enormous potential, if we can extend it further.”

Nearly 80% of the patients treated at Intermountain Precision Genomics have been connected to targeted drug therapies. No other healthcare system has had comparable success. Unlike traditional chemotherapy, which focuses on destroying rapidly dividing cells, targeted therapies identify other features that are more specific to cancer cells. These medications work in individual ways, but all interfere with the ability of the cancer cell to grow, divide, repair, and/or communicate with other cells.

About Intermountain Healthcare

Intermountain Healthcare is a Utah-based not-for-profit system of 22 hospitals, 185 clinics, a Medical Group with about 1,100 employed physicians, a health plans division called SelectHealth, and other health services. Intermountain is widely recognized as a leader in transforming healthcare through high quality and sustainable costs.  For more information about Intermountain, visit www.intermountainhealthcare.org.

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