18 June 2019

In British Journal of Cancer Annelieke Willemsen, Carla van Herpen and colleagues showed that molecular tumor boards may have an important impact on patient care, but challenges remain for the accessibilty for cancer patients. Important issues to address are the national organization and coordination of molecular tumor boards with implementation of quality guidelines and a registry of molecular and clinical data to gather evidence of the clinical benefit of MTB-guided treatment.

Advances in molecular tumour diagnostics and the number of targeted therapies increase rapidly. Molecular tumour boards (MTBs) are designated to interpret these data and provide clinical recommendations. Not all patients with cancer have access to advice of an MTB. We aimed to determine the current status, opportunities, and challenges of the organisation of MTBs in the Netherlands. We interviewed several stakeholders about their experiences with an MTB, using template analysis. Most clinicians and patient representatives underscore the significance of an MTB, because it can stimulate rational treatment options, enrolment in clinical trials, and interdisciplinary knowledge transfer. Health insurance companies and financial managers are concerned about increasing costs. Registries to assess the clinical benefit of MTBs, guidelines on quality control, financial agreements, and logistical resources are lacking. The national organisation of MTBs and a registry of molecular and clinical data are important issues to address.

Molecular tumour boards and molecular diagnostics for patients with cancer in the Netherlands: experiences, challenges, and aspirations.
Willemsen AECAB, Krausz S, Ligtenberg MJL, Grünberg K, Groen HJM, Voest EE, Cuppen EPJG, van Laarhoven HWM, van Herpen CML.

Annelieke Willemsen and Carla van Herpen are members of theme Rare cancers.

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