In a significant step towards advancing patient access to crucial genetic testing for hereditary cancer risk, a coalition named the Inter-Organization Cancer Genetics Clinical Evidence Coalition (INTERACT) has been officially launched. This collaborative effort brings together leading entities in the domain of cancer genetics, comprising commercial organizations like Ambry Genetics (a subsidiary of REALM IDx), Illumina, Myriad Genetics, Quest Diagnostics, and the recent addition of Volpara Health, as well as patient advocacy groups including AliveAndKickn and FORCE.

The primary mission of INTERACT is to bolster evidence-based access to genetic testing for individuals who are living with or at risk of hereditary cancers. This initiative is especially pivotal at a time when understanding and managing genetic risks in cancer have gained paramount importance. Genetic testing plays a critical role in identifying inherited mutations that significantly increase an individual’s risk of developing cancer, thereby paving the way for preventive measures and personalized treatments.

The founding members of INTERACT are at the forefront of genetic testing and hereditary cancer knowledge. They are driven by a shared responsibility to enhance awareness and advocate for policy changes to ensure equal access to genetic testing, particularly for groups that would benefit the most. Among the coalition’s goals is to align policies and guidelines with the expanding evidence base around inherited cancer risks, thereby streamlining the pathway to timely and appropriate testing for those at risk.

Genetic testing for hereditary cancers, such as mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, has proven to significantly impact patient outcomes. For example, individuals with these mutations face an up to 87% lifetime risk for breast cancer and up to 40% lifetime risk for ovarian cancer. With this knowledge, patients and healthcare providers can opt for increased surveillance, chemoprevention, and even risk-reducing surgeries, significantly lowering cancer incidence and mortality rates.

However, despite these clear benefits, disparities in the access to and uptake of cancer genetics services persist. Vulnerable populations, in particular, may not be adequately informed of their risk or of the potential need for increased screening and preventive measures. Robin Dubin, Executive Director of AliveAndKickn, highlighted the urgency of addressing these disparities, especially in conditions like Lynch syndrome, where the majority of individuals at risk remain unidentified.

INTERACT also recognizes a pivotal challenge in the pathway to widespread genetic testing access: the slow pace of updating medical policies and guidelines in the wake of new research findings. To this end, the coalition is committed to actively engaging with guideline committees and medical professional societies, aiming to bridge the gap between new evidence and policy practice, thus enhancing access to genetic testing nationwide.

By uniting specialized genetic testing laboratories and patient advocacy groups, INTERACT envisions a future where advancements in cancer genetic testing translate into expanded access for all patients, regardless of their background. As the coalition embarks on its mission, it underscores the power of collaboration in driving change and improving outcomes for individuals at risk of hereditary cancers.

For more information about INTERACT and its mission, interested parties are invited to visit their official website.