(ChemotherapyAdvisor) – Patients with cancer are generally willing to participate in biomarker screening to facilitate personalizing anticancer therapy; however, 32% are unaware such tests exist, results of a multinational survey presented during the European Society for Medical Oncology 2012 Congress in Vienna, Austria, has found.

“There is considerable scope for physicians and support groups to better inform patients that not all cancers are the same and that new tests may be able to identify which treatments will work most effectively for them,” noted Prof. Sabine Tejpar, of University Hospital of Leuven, Belgium, and colleagues.

Patients with a diagnosis of late-stage breast cancer, stage III/IV non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), or metastatic colorectal cancer (mCRC) within the previous 5 years from Argentina, China, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK were invited to participate in a telephone-based questionnaire to assess patient awareness and understanding of the issues surrounding personalized medicine.

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Of the 811 patients who completed the questionnaire, 164 had breast cancer; 157, NSCLC; and 490, mCRC.

A total of 260 patients (32%) believed “there was no method of testing to determine which cancer treatments might work (or work better) in certain people,” Prof. Tejpar reported, adding 53% thought such testing might be possible: 62% of those with breast cancer, 48% with NSCLC, and 52% with mCRC.

The majority of patients (66%) were willing to delay treatment if it helped select the most effective drug—54% of this group by more than 2 weeks—and 69% “were willing to undergo a tumor re-biopsy as part of any such treatment selection process.”

Almost all patients (91%) “would allow a hospital to retain a tumor sample for future research,” she reported, and 24% cited the Internet “as a useful source of information regarding disease and treatment options.”

“It was really striking participants were willing to allow hospitals to retain their tumor samples even if this didn’t directly relate to their own treatment. It shows they want to advance research and help others with the disease,” Prof. Tejpar concluded.

Abstract (#1382P_PR)