Putting Patients in the Driver’s Seat for Molecular Diagnostics and Treatments

Though oncologists are well aware of molecular-level testing, the concept may be new for patients. When clinicians discuss treatment plans, patients often focus on little beyond the word “cancer” because their attention is focused on their fear, anxiety, and uncertainty. After diagnosis, patients often call their clinician’s office to rehash the conversation because they don’t remember what was said. Also, few patients clearly understand the technologies and how they can lead to personalized treatments. A new website, www.IsMyCancerDifferent.com, helps in patient understanding by providing expert information on molecular-level testing in a consumer-friendly, patient-driven format.

We discussed this new website with Dr. April Latrice Speed, a breast specialist at Dekalb Medical Hillandale in Lithonia, GA. She explained that the site empowers patients to drive the conversation about their individualized cancer treatment plan. For oncologists, this website helps to communicate to patients the concepts of molecular-level testing and how this testing can provide crucial information to guide diagnosis, prognosis, and treatment planning.

“The website helps to reinforce the office discussion in the comfort of your own home. You don’t plan for cancer. You can’t process and wrap your head around it. It allows you to have a friend at your house and basically rehash what your clinician just told you. It’s a format that is compassionate, comprehensive, and not intimidating,” said Dr. Speed.

The advice on www.IsMyCancerDifferent.com is delivered from the patient’s perspective, while providing interface with experts. It is patient-friendly and has consumer-driven content. The majority of other websites have a format that is driven by clinicians or else they are strictly consumer driven without expert interface.

This website “puts the power in patient’s hands. It’s a game changer,” stated Dr. Speed. Patients can access information at low impact to their wallet since no travel or time off of work is needed. The information equalizes the potential for patients to get good treatment, even when they do not live in an area with top-notch facilities nearby.

“The website puts the patient behind the wheel,” said Dr. Speed.

The website is sponsored by Clarient, which is a GE Healthcare Company, and by N-of-One. The content is reviewed for accuracy by the president of N-of-One, Jennifer Levin Carter, MD, MPH, and is also reviewed by the legal and regulatory team from Clarient/GE Healthcare.

Clarient provides comprehensive, cancer-diagnostic laboratory services, and is developing proprietary companion diagnostic tests for therapeutics in breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancer, along with leukemia/lymphoma. N-of-One provides access to cutting-edge technologies for cancer patients and their physicians.

by Kathy Bolz, PhD

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  1. I’m afraid this sounds like a constructed PR piece. Though I’m all for testing for appropriate molecular markers under the right circumstances, it’s not surprising that a company that sells and profits by molecular testing wants to create a website promoting molecular testing, especially if “putting patients behind the wheel” means instigating inappropriate but profitable testing.

    If Clarient/GE Healthcare want to promote their wares, that’s OK, but it’s misleading to shroud this as an ennobling venture. It’s too close to basic crass marketing.

    -Jack West, MD
    Medical Director, Thoracic Oncology Program
    Swedish Cancer Institute
    Seattle, WA

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