Partnership improves access to genetic counseling services when suspected hereditary cancer gene variant is identified through Foundation Medicine’s tumor testing
CAMBRIDGE, Mass. & ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Foundation Medicine, Inc. and InformedDNA, the nation’s largest independent provider of genetics services, today announced a collaboration that will enable physicians to refer U.S. patients with possible inherited cancer gene mutations to genetic counseling services and confirmatory genetic testing based on the results of Foundation Medicine’s tumor testing.
For patients who undergo Foundation Medicine’s comprehensive genomic profiling tests and receive a result showing a potential inherited cancer gene variant, genetic counseling and follow up germline (genetic) testing aligns with clinical guidelines and industry best practices, and provides oncologists and their patients with more data to inform treatment decisions.
Cancer can be influenced by many different genetic changes; some are acquired over time, known as somatic mutations, and others are inherited, known as germline mutations. Foundation Medicine’s tests evaluate more than 300 cancer-related genes, including genes with variants that may have potential germline implications. If a potential germline variant is identified via tissue or liquid-based genomic testing, Foundation Medicine’s test report highlights this to the patient’s provider, so that the provider may consider follow up with genetic counseling and confirmatory germline testing.
Through this new collaboration, Foundation Medicine and InformedDNA are helping advanced cancer patients and their physicians navigate the appropriate genetic counseling and confirmatory testing resources available to them should they choose to leverage them to inform treatment plans.
“Both somatic and germline drivers of disease are critical to inform treatment decisions and assess future risk, yet many physicians and health systems do not have a referral process in place or access to internal genetic counseling services and confirmatory germline testing. Further, given the broader implications of this information, responsible communication from a genetic counselor is critical,” said Brian Alexander, M.D., M.P.H., chief medical officer at Foundation Medicine. “We’re pleased to partner with InformedDNA to create a unique option that enables access to genetic counseling and guidance on confirmatory testing, thereby assisting care teams with obtaining additional information to develop holistic treatment plans for patients and their families.”
InformedDNA is a leader in telegenetic counseling, offering services with board-certified genetic counselors across all 50 states. If confirmatory genetic testing is desired and deemed necessary following a potential germline variant finding on one of Foundation Medicine’s reports, InformedDNA’s genetic counselors will guide patients in determining the appropriate test and understanding the benefits, risks, and implications of confirmatory germline testing.
“Together, we’re improving access to an important aspect of tumor testing for cancer patients – the ability to identify patients at risk of carrying inherited genetic mutations,” said Rebecca Sutphen, M.D., FACMGG, co-founder and chief medical officer at InformedDNA. “This collaboration aims to make genetic counseling and confirmatory testing more accessible to U.S. patients with potential germline mutations, helping to ensure that physicians have the information needed to develop personalized cancer treatment plans for their patients and implement preventive measures for their families.”
Approximately five to 10 percent of all cancers are hereditary. In addition to playing a role in diagnosing and treating an individual with cancer, genetic information can be used to help inform health decisions for a patient’s family members.
“We believe it is essential for all advanced cancer patients to have access to the tools needed to understand the hereditary implications of their cancer, if interested,” said Sue Friedman, executive director and founder of Facing Hereditary Cancers Empowered (FORCE). “We applaud Foundation Medicine and InformedDNA for embarking on this effort to fill an important gap in cancer care, ensuring people affected by hereditary cancer have the information, support and guidance they need to navigate treatment and prevention.”
Foundation Medicine’s reporting of tumor variants does not distinguish between somatic or germline variants and is not intended to replace germline testing or provide information specific to cancer predisposition.