What Is Somatic Genomic Testing and How Is It Used in Cancer Treatment?

March 3, 2022
Brielle Gregory Collins, ASCO staff

The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) published a new provisional clinical opinion, “Somatic Genomic Testing in Patients With Metastatic or Advanced Cancer,” on February 17, 2022. Provisional clinical opinions are recommendations for care based on the newest information in cancer care. Somatic genomic testing looks for changes in the genes of cancer cells. The results are used to plan treatment, including the use of targeted therapy and immunotherapy.

In this podcast, Funda Meric-Bernstam, MD, and Mark Robson, MD, discuss what people with metastatic or advanced cancer should know about somatic genomic testing and the recommendations from the provisional clinical opinion. Dr. Meric-Bernstam and Dr. Robson were co-chairs of the ASCO expert panel that developed these recommendations.

  • What is a provisional clinical opinion, and why are they important? [1:58]

  • What is somatic genomic testing, and how is it used in cancer treatment? [2:54]

  • How is somatic testing different from germline testing? [4:29]

  • What is next-generation sequencing for cancer? [5:51]

  • What should people with cancer and their loved ones know about recommendations in this provisional clinical opinion on who should have somatic genomic testing? [6:32]

  • Is genetic testing done through a biopsy sample? Are there other ways genetic testing can be done? [9:55]

  • What are the emerging ways that genetic testing may be used to help people with cancer? [11:09]

Dr. Meric-Bernstam is the chair of the Department of Investigational Cancer Therapeutics—the Phase I Program at the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Meric-Bernstam is also the medical director of the Institute for Personalized Cancer Therapy (IPCT) and the Nellie B. Connally Chair in Breast Cancer at her institution. Dr. Robson is the chief of Breast Medicine Service at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York, New York.

View Dr. Meric-Bernstam’s disclosures. View Dr. Robson’s disclosures.

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