Fri. Feb 23rd, 2024

The way we classify cancers needs to change

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A lung cancer tumor (Archive illustration)

Agence France-Presse

Classifying metastatic cancer according to the organ in which it first appeared is obsolete and can sometimes prevent certain patients from accessing appropriate treatment, say researchers from the x27;Institut Gustave-Roussy in France in the magazine Nature (New window) (in English).

This habit of classifying cancers and treating them according to the organ of origin slows down the progress of research, write in a column published Wednesday by the journal these doctor-researchers from the anticancer center located south of Paris and from the University of Paris-Saclay.

Currently, the entirety of oncology is based on a segmentation of patients according to the organ in which the disease appeared, they point out. We therefore say that a person has liver, lung or even pancreatic cancer, even if their cancer has spread to other organs.

However, numerous researches have highlighted common characteristics shared by several types of organ cancers, continue the researchers, who call for metastatic cancers to now be classified according to the molecular or biological properties of the tumors.

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">Because the current classification prevents millions of patients from accessing innovative treatment, they believe.

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They give the example of olaparib, an anticancer molecule which first received marketing authorization in 2014, only for ovarian cancers. Authorization was extended in 2018 to breast cancers, and in 2020 only to pancreatic and prostate cancers.

Clinical trials regarding anti-PD1/PDL1, an immunotherapy particularly active in patients whose cancer cells express a high level of the PD-L1 protein, have also been segmented by organ of origin for years, delaying the implementation treatment market for thousands of patients, they illustrate.

These delays in granting authorizations can be explained by the segmentation of clinical trials, which must demonstrate their effectiveness by type of organ of origin of the cancer, they regret.

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