Sacramento, Calif. — Today, State Senator Monique Limón (D-Santa Barbara) introduced Senate Bill 912 to increase access to biomarker testing, which can help determine the best treatment plan for a specific patient. The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) and the University of California (UC) have teamed up to sponsor this important next step in ensuring cancer patients have access to precision medicine. The UC system is a leader in cancer care through the UC Cancer Consortium which comprises five of the nation's 51 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers.
“Last year, I authored legislation to provide patients diagnosed with stages 3 and 4 cancer with prompt access to biomarker testing to inform their course of treatment. We know there are biomarker testing available for other conditions that can help healthcare providers render the best treatment options for patients. To expand access and coverage of biomarker testing more broadly, I have introduced SB 912. The bill will reduce barriers patients face when accessing timely care and cost of treatment. SB 912 will improve access to care, precision medicine, and will reduce overall healthcare costs by avoiding unnecessary hospitalizations and treatments,” said Senator Monique Limón.
Dubbed ‘the right treatment, to the right patient, at the right time,’ precision medicine has played a critical role in improving cancer outcomes. For example, patients with certain lung cancer types who received biomarker testing and targeted therapy had a 31% reduction in mortality. But to determine if a patient will benefit from certain targeted therapies, doctors must test for specific biomarkers – such as gene mutations – found in blood, tissues or other bodily fluids that provide insight into physiological processes, medical conditions or diseases.
“The advances in cancer treatment that have come from being able to tailor approaches to a person’s individual condition are critical for winning the fight against cancer. This legislation will bring the hope and promise of precision medicine to people with a cancer diagnosis across the state on an equitable basis,” said Carrie L. Byington, M.D., executive vice president of University of California Health. “California has the opportunity to be among the leaders in the nation with this legislation.”
Despite its benefits, access to biomarker testing has not kept pace with the rate of innovation due to several factors, including low awareness of new testing methodologies among providers and patients and lack of coverage by private health insurance and Medicaid programs.
“Biomarker testing and precision medicine have led to improved patient survival and quality of life,” said Autumn J. Ogden-Smith, California Legislative Director for ACS CAN. “This legislation will help ensure California cancer patients have access to the most appropriate and promising therapies available for them.”
UC’s Comprehensive Cancer Centers, which collaborate and leverage their combined expertise as part of the UC Cancer Consortium, treat all types of cancers in adults and children, including rare and difficult cancers that cannot be treated in other hospitals. Some cancers occur more frequently in selected populations, and access to state-of-the-art cancer treatment is not equally available to everyone. Working together, UC’s Comprehensive Cancer Centers are focused on addressing these disparities and promoting health equity as they work to improve cancer outcomes across California.
For more information on precision medicine, cancer biomarkers, current barriers to biomarker testing and ACS CAN’s policy recommendations, visit: www.fightcancer.org/biomarkers.