VA New England Healthcare System
Precision Oncology Program
The Veterans Integrated Service Network 1’s Precision Oncology Program (POP) is a clinical care program with a research component intended to bring personalized health care and cutting-edge cancer treatment to Veterans. Initially it will focus on the specific mutations in lung cancer and expand to other forms of cancer. It is beginning here in VA New England and once operational, we hope to roll it out nationally. Visit the POP wiki for details.
How it Works:
Generally speaking, a patient is diagnosed with lung cancer and the information goes into their Electronic Medical Record (EMR). Overnight the information is collated and the next day, POP coordinators will review the Veteran’s pathology result to see if it meets the program’s criteria. Then a POP coordinator will contact the oncologist to discuss whether the patient could benefit from having a larger targeted gene mutation panel done on their tumor specimen.
If two people have the same common disease (lung cancer), and they are treated with the same drugs, and one responds to treatment and one does not, then the reason could be that the gene mutations in the tumor are different. This makes a very common disease (like lung cancer) a unique disease for each patient, because the gene mutations can be very different from one person to the next. The Precision Oncology Program hopes to be able to match patients to very precise, personalized care, and to improve care for all Veterans diagnosed with cancer.
Remove disparity of care by creating and using a shared knowledge base so all oncologists have access to the same information, treatments and resources.
Create a learning healthcare system capable of applying this model to other forms of cancer trials so VA can bring personalized, innovative health care to Veterans.
Patients who have a targeted mutation panel will be invited to join a clinical research study. We plan to collect the gene mutation data and other medical information from a large number of patients and place it in a data repository. With this information, we hope to improve our understanding of cancer biology, identify clinical trial opportunities, and share information with others that may lead to the development of new cancer treatments. The research component will also have a patient-centered website. It, too, will also collect data for the repository.
Veterans will be asked what level of consent they will give for the use of their data.
Depending on the level of consent, they can be matched to trials in the VA or to nationwide trials with VA partners giving them access to innovative treatments.
The Precision Oncology Program and the Research for the Precision Oncology Program fall in line with the VHA Communications Road Map, and the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative.
Questions We Hope to Answer:
Why does one patient do better than another even though they both have the same type of cancer?
Does their genetic makeup make a difference?
Is the answer contained in their personal genetic mutations?