A White Paper on the Need for Consistent Terms for Testing in Precision Medicine

July 7, 2020 7:00 am

The following article is provided by The Clearity Foundation to support women with ovarian cancer and their families. Learn more about The Clearity Foundation and the services we provide directly to women as they make treatment decisions and navigate emotional impacts of their diagnosis.


For years, The Clearity Foundation has emphasized the importance of tumor profiles/blueprints for informing decisions about treatment for ovarian cancer. Yet, genetic and tumor biomarker testing are not universally performed despite evidence that positive results in these tests could suggest benefit from treatment with PARP inhibitors (e.g, olaparib, niraparib, rucaparib if BRCA or HRD/LOH are positive) or immune checkpoint inhibitors (e.g, pembrolizumab if TMB or MSI are positive) and other drugs. One possible reason for the under-utilization of such testing in ovarian and other cancers may be due to confusing and conflicting terminology related to this testing.

Indeed, a pan-cancer working group* in which Clearity participated identified at least 33 different terms related to biomarker, genetic, and genomic testing are being used in patient education and clinical care. The group agreed that “biomarker testing” and “genetic testing for inherited cancer risk” or “genetic testing for an inherited mutation” should be adopted as consistent terms to describe this testing across all cancer types and wrote a A White Paper on the Need for Consistent Terms for Testing in Precision Medicine that can be accessed here.

According to Deb Zajchowski, PhD Clearity’s Scientific Director, “Since our founding, Clearity has been committed to empowering women with information and supporting them throughout their ovarian cancer journey. Adopting consistent language across cancer types for ‘tumor biomarker testing’ and ‘genetic testing for inherited cancer risk’ is an important step toward fulfilling Clearity’s goal of ensuring that all women with ovarian cancer are aware of individualized treatment options based on their tumor characteristics and clinical situation.”

For more information, please visit www.commoncancertestingterms.org.

* The Consistent Testing Terminology Working Group is composed of 41 patient advocacy organizations from solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, professional societies, pharma, biotech, diagnostics companies, and testing laboratories committed to clarifying and promoting consistent use of common terms for biomarker and germline genetic testing.







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