Breast Cancer Coverage from Every Angle

ESMO Breast 2019: Global Survey of HER2 Testing Shows Room for Improvement

By: Dana Elya
Posted: Tuesday, May 14, 2019

At the 2019 European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Breast Cancer Congress in Berlin, Dr. Sara Altuna, of the Unidad Oncológica Venezuela CA and Oncomédica CA, Caracas, Venezuela, shared the results of the ONCOLLEGE-001 study, an Internet-based survey of 227 oncology providers (Abstract 42P_PR). The results illustrate major access and affordability issues regarding HER2 testing in low- and middle-income countries as well as in some upper middle–income countries as well.

“Without accurate, high-quality HER2 testing, women with HER2-positive tumors may miss out on potentially lifesaving treatment,” commented Dr. Fatima Cardoso, of the Breast Unit of the Champalimaud Clinical Center in Lisbon, Portugal, in an ESMO press release.

A total of 210 providers across 45 countries responded to the online survey. HER2 testing was available only in private settings or abroad for 5% of high-income countries, 42% of upper middle–income countries, and 34% of lower middle– and low-income countries. Out-of-pocket expenses for testing results showed 30% from the lower middle– and low-income countries versus 12% from the upper-middle and high-income countries.

“ONCOLLEGE-001 is an important study in raising awareness of the heterogeneity of availability and quality of HER2 testing. The results probably underestimate the access and affordability problems facing many patients…, but they remind us of the need for clinicians, regulators, and governments to work together in addressing these inequalities,” added Dr. Cardoso. 

ONCOLLEGE-001 has an ongoing analysis to further address the prioritization and access to HER2 medications.

Disclosure: The study authors reported no conflicts of interest.

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