Clinicians and patients across MPCCC partner health services have enthusiastically responded to the MPCCC Precision Oncology Program in 2020, and this month the program has reached a new milestone: 100 patients have been referred for molecular tumour profiling.

The MPCCC’s partnership with Omico, a national research program based in Sydney, has made it possible for patients across south-eastern Victoria to benefit from next generation sequencing by participating in Omico’s Molecular Screening and Therapeutics (MoST) program.

Patients referred to the MoST program by their treating oncologist have rare and advanced stage cancers, and are often running out of treatment options. MPCCC’s first 100 referrals have included patients with various tumours, with the three most common being gynaecological, colorectal and gallbladder cancers. People with cancers of unknown primary, upper gastrointestinal, lung, prostate, head and neck, and skin cancers have also participated in the program.

In the MPCCC Precision Oncology Program, the significance of mutations identified by tumour sequencing is discussed at MPCCC Molecular Tumour Boards in which multi-disciplinary teams of surgeons, oncologists, cancer researchers and others work together to match each patient’s individual cancer mutation profile to particular treatments, including targeted drug therapies, immunotherapy or Victorian-based clinical trials, many of which are conducted at MPCCC partner health services.

Around 45% of patients referred to the MPCCC’s Precision Oncology Program to date have had a mutation identified in their cancer, with some level of evidence for actionability. At MPCCC Molecular Tumour Boards, around of of these were thought to be potentially suitable for investigational therapies or clinical trials. Once treatment recommendations are made, referring clinicians work with Omico to provide updates on each patient’s progress at 6-monthly intervals. This contributes knowledge that will benefit MPCCC oncology practitioners in future.

“We have been delighted with the uptake of this program across MPCCC partners, which demonstrates that we are addressing a genuine need for patients in our region with this program,” said Professor Mark Shackleton, Clinical Lead of the MPCCC Precision Oncology Program.

“Having reached the 100-patient milestone, MPCCC is taking a brief pause in referrals for sequencing so we can plan the funding and future of our Precision Oncology Program. In particular, in addition to providing ongoing access to sequencing and Molecular Tumour Boards for informing patient care, we will be focusing on building precision oncology research and infrastructure capabilities within MPCCC’s partner health services and research institutes,” Professor Shackleton added.

Referrals to the MoST program are planned to resume in late January 2021. The MPCCC Precision Oncology Program is made possible by support from the Victorian Government and Monash University, and has been recognised by the Victorian Cancer Agency as central to improving the accessibility of cutting-edge cancer treatments to Victorians, including those residing in Victoria’s southern, eastern and regional corridors.