4 Questions About Biomarker Testing and the Critical Role It Plays in NSCLC

Biomarker testing at the time of diagnosis is a critical first step in getting patients on the right treatment plan. When Kelly Hannan, a wife and mother who enjoys hiking and works in a law firm in Portland, Oregon, learned that biomarker testing of her non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) revealed a mutation called KRAS G12C she was shocked. “I knew from reading that KRAS was not a great one to have…I knew at the time that there was no targeted therapy for my particular mutation.”

1. What are biomarkers?

Biomarkers are biological molecules found in the blood or tissue that are an indicator of a normal or abnormal process in the body.1 Biomarker testing looks for biological changes that may be associated with cancer. Because there are many different types of cancer and the specific type varies from person to person, biomarkers give the cancer care team a way to gather as much information as possible about a patient’s type of lung cancer.

2. How is biomarker testing performed?

Biomarker testing, which is sometimes referred to as “molecular testing” or “genetic testing,” is done by obtaining a small amount of tissue (called a biopsy) from a patient’s tumor, or by drawing a blood sample; the tissue or blood sample is sent to a lab for testing which can provide information about the patient’s specific tumor makeup. Results from biomarker testing help to develop and guide a patient’s personalized treatment path, including whether targeted therapy is appropriate. A comprehensive biomarker test differs from a single-gene test by screening for an expanded list that includes all guideline-recommended biomarkers for NSCLC.

Despite professional clinical guideline recommendations, far too many patients do not receive biomarker testing.2,3,4

3. Why is biomarker testing critical for patients with NSCLC?

There are many different types of NSCLC so knowing specific biomarkers can help guide a patient’s treatment plan and provide certain information on how the tumor may respond to a particular treatment.5 Among patients with NSCLC, more than half test positive for a known biomarker.6

4. Why did Amgen launch Biomarker Assist?

Amgen is committed to helping more patients with NSCLC gain access to comprehensive and single gene biomarker testing and is launching Biomarker Assist. Until now, there were not programs designed to help patients save on the cost of biomarker testing.

Watch the video below to learn more about the importance of biomarker testing through Kelly’s journey.

Kelly has been compensated by Amgen for her participation and is not being treated with an Amgen medicine.

  1. Goosens N, et al. Transl Cancer Res. 2015 ;4:256-269.
  2. Gutierrez ME, et al. Clin Lung Cancer. 2017;18:651-659.
  3. Gierman HJ, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2019;37 (15_Suppl):Abstract 1585.
  4. Christian J, et al. J Clin Oncol. 2019;37 (15 Suppl):Abstract e20056.
  5. Barlesi F, et al. Lancet. 2016 ;387 :1415-1426.
  6. Pakkala S, et al. JCI Insight. 2018 ;3 :e120858.

Share This Story