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AMA Announces New Online Education to Help Physicians Use and Interpret Cancer Panel Testing in Practice


As part of its program aimed at educating physicians and other health care professionals on the benefits and limitations of genomics and precision medicine, the American Medical Association (AMA) today announced two new online educational modules focused on somatic cancer panel testing. The modules will help physicians determine when cancer panel testing is appropriate for their patients and how to interpret the test results to inform the best treatment options for patients.

"We know that genetic technology is rapidly expanding, often too quickly for physicians and other health professionals to become familiar with new technologies before they become clinically available. In particular, somatic cancer panel testing is a relatively new and quickly expanding type of test in cancer care," said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D. "With many physicians who treat and follow cancer patients unfamiliar with the use of these panels, and little clinical guidance yet available for their use, the new modules will help physicians better understand the factors that should be considered when incorporating cancer panel testing into patient care."

The two modules provide physicians and other health professionals with a detailed overview of somatic cancer panel testing, also known as cancer genomic panels or tumor molecular panels, and the resources available to assist them as they consider using it to inform patient care.

The first module explores how cancer panel testing can help physicians identify genetic variants driving cancer growth and the targeted therapies that can expand their patients' treatment options. This module details the types of clinical information that can be gleaned from large somatic cancer panels as well as how to determine which patients are ideal candidates for testing. The second module, launched today, focuses on helping providers interpret results of somatic cancer panel testing, as well as how to identify key information within the reports that is important for patient care.

Both of these modules are part of the 12-module online "Precision Medicine for Your Practice" series, being developed by the AMA, Scripps Translational Science Institute, and The Jackson Laboratory. Each module in the series is freely available, carries CME credit, and presents interactive case studies for clinicians to practice what they've learned--applying genetic information to patient cases, assessing the utility of genetic information, and learning about benefits and limitations of new genetic tests.

Previous modules have addressed expanded carrier screening and prenatal cell-free DNA screening. Upcoming modules will focus on other applications of genetic testing, including genomic sequencing in the healthy individual, cardiogenomics, neurogenomics, and pharmacogenomics. All future and previously released modules will be available online at the AMA Education Center.

This effort furthers the AMA's work over the last decade to ensure that physicians have access to the resources and support they need to appropriately integrate personalized medicine services into practice to precisely target treatment and improve health outcomes. The AMA will continue to focus efforts on improving the health of the nation and support efforts that ensure patients live richer and fuller lives while reducing health care costs.


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