Oncologists have observed for some time great differences in response to treatment among their patients. Some ovarian cancer patients may respond very well to a particular drug, while other ovarian cancer patients may not respond at all. In fact tissue from two different breast tumours may appear identical under a microscope, but there may be differences between the tumours that do not appear.
Molecular profiling, sometimes referred to as genetic profiling, is a new technology that involves testing the genes of a tumour to identify the unique mutations or characteristics of a tumour that are specific to each patient. This information will allow physicians to tailor patient treatment plans accordingly.
The Integrated Molecular Profiling in Advanced Cancers Trial (IMPACT) is the first comprehensive molecular profiling program in Canada. Approximately 500 patients will be recruited at The Princess Margaret for the study. These patients will have fairly advanced solid tumours in the breast, ovaries, lung cancer, pancreas or colon.
Through this clinical trial, the staff of the laboratories that will be conducting the molecular profiling work will develop expertise and understanding of how much tissue is required for successful profiling and procedures for how best to handle the tissue samples for best results.
All data, including patient outcomes, will be carefully tracked in order to see if an understanding of the genetic profile of a tumour can lead to better results for patients. The IMPACT trial is an excellent example of The Princess Margaret’s commitment to lead the way in creating and implementing personalized cancer medicine for cancer patients at The Princess Margaret, across Canada and around the world.