A Study to Examine the Value of Broad Agnostic Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) Panel Testing Versus Reimbursed Organ-directed NGS: a Belgian Precision Study of the BSMO in Collaboration With the Cancer Center

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    The Belgian Society of Medical Oncology
Updated on 5 June 2021
breast cancer


Title of the study A study to examine the value of broad agnostic NGS panel testing versus reimbursed organ-directed NGS: a Belgian Precision study of the BSMO in collaboration with the Cancer Centre Study Number BSMO 2020-1 Study Phase Exploratory Sponsor Belgian Society of medical Oncology (BSMO) Treatment None Background and Rationale Several drugs targeting mutated gene products in cancer cells are available to Belgian patients through reimbursement of the drugs and, soon, by reimbursed organ-specific genomic testing.

This context is unfavorable with regard to the following issues:

  1. Many more additional drugs with sound scientific rationale and preclinical evidence are available through clinical trials. The relevant genes are generally not included in the reimbursed NGS and ad hoc identification of such patients is extremely difficult and thus severely hampering the accrual in such trials. This denies patients a potential access to innovative treatments from which they could benefit and hampers progress.
  2. The same genes can be mutated in other cancer types, other than the reimbursed context, but are not detected due to the organ-specific approach in reimbursed NGS. Examination of these genes with an agnostic approach would give these other patients potential access to the drugs (via various routes, including clinical trials or medical need or otherwise)
  3. The broader panels applied by some Belgian platforms (50-100 genes), sometimes in an agnostic approach, do not cover all potentially actionable genes or not all types of actionable variants in these genes.
  4. Rearrangements which are highly actionable are not systematically covered in NGS testing, but rely on immunohistochemistry (if done at all) of fusion panels testing that requires additional funding.
  5. The various Belgian NGS labs use accredited but heterogeneous methodology and it has been reported that the detection rate of some mutations varies from one site to another.

Therefore, from a patient and oncologist point of view there are current deficiencies that jeopardize optimal access of patients to current or novel genome-driven therapies. Defective identification of sensitive patients limits the implementation of clinical trials and their accrual rates and therefore the attractiveness of Belgium for such trials.

There are more comprehensive commercial platforms that cover a large set of actionable genes (up to hundreds of genes) and the various types of mutations in these genes: sequence mutations, rearrangements, resulting in fusion genes, and gene amplifications.

These commercial vendors have adequate comprehensive methodology but are too expensive (at their current public pricing) for general application. One of these is the platform of Foundation Medicine that builds on a large experience in variant annotation in the US and includes probably all current actionable targets including gene mutations, fusions, MSI, and TMB, all at once in one result. They also report actionability and established or clinical trial treatment options.

To oncologists this is very attractive compared to the fragmented, sequential and very limited current reimbursed conditions.

The investigators estimate that up to 20% of advanced cancer patients could get access to genotype-based treatment that are not covered by the organ-based reimbursement based access to NGS. This can be in the form of off-label application of reimbursed drugs, pharma-sponsored drug development trials that address a specific genotype or pharma sponsored or academic basket trials. Without broad agnostic testing the identification of eligible patients remains extremely difficult. A recent study [A study of genetic characteristics and suitability for targeted cancer treatment (TARGET)] showed that the rate of detection of actionable mutations increased from 28% with local testing to 66% with Foundation Medicine testing.


  1. To determine the added value of comprehensive and agnostic NGS versus "real-world" practice ("real-world" practice means local testing, no reimbursement for local testing and/or no accessible metastatic lesion) in providing patients with advanced/metastatic solid tumors access molecular guided therapy and/or immunotherapy based on genomic results.
  2. To describe the landscape of genomic alterations detected by reimbursed NGS
  3. To describe he landscape of genomic alterations detected by comprehensive panel testing
  4. To assess the technical success of comprehensive panel testing
  5. To describe the uptake of treatments recommended by the molecular tumor board guided by the genomic testing.

Condition Metastasis, Cancer, Metastatic, cancers metastatic, tumor invasion, metastasized, Brain Metastases, Bone Metastases, Metastatic Cancer, metastatic disease, metastatic tumor, secondary cancer, secondaries, Neoplasm Metastasis, Liver Metastases, metastases
Treatment NGS testing
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04641676
SponsorThe Belgian Society of Medical Oncology
Last Modified on5 June 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

- Adult patients (18 years and above)
- Patients with metastatic solid tumors that are candidates for systemic therapy (early lines are preferred). Numbers will be capped for frequent tumor types (breast cancer: 150 patients, NSCLC: 150 patients, colorectal cancer: 150 patients). There will be a cohort of 200 patients with rare tumors or tumors with rare histology (Eur. J. Cancer 2011; 47: 2493-2511). Patients will be recruited as they appear in clinical practice
- Patients will be enrolled following three clinical scenarios: a) patients
eligible for local NGS testing (reimbursed or local practice); b) patients
that are not eligible for reimbursed or local NGS testing; c) patients with no
sufficient archival tissue meeting the pre-requirements will only undergo FMI
liquid biopsy testing (exploratory cohort). That last cohort will be capped at
patients and will not have more than 50% of patients with the same tumor
- Patients enrolled in scenario a) and b) must have enough tissue from a
metastatic (preferred) or primary lesion biopsy for local testing and FMI
testing. The tissue should not be more than 3 years-old and fixed in 10%
neutral buffered formalin. Availability of metastatic biopsies performed after
a previous therapy line are mandatory for patients treated with therapies that
are known to induce acquired mechanisms of resistance (EGFR TKIs in NSCLC
aromatase inhibitors in breast cancer, TKIs in Gastrointestinal stromal tumor
(GIST)). Bone biopsies that undergo decalcification are not allowed
- Patient showing an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) Performance
Status of 2\
- Patients can only be enrolled if they are also concomitantly registered in
the Precision 1 study and the investigator agrees to subsequent registration
of genotype-driven treatments given and the investigator assessed outcome on
these treatments (RR and PFS)
- Patients able to provide written informed consent prior to enrollment into
a potential subsequent clinical trial

Exclusion Criteria

- Life expectancy of less than 12 weeks
- Inability to comply with protocol procedures
- Known presence of severe hematopoietic, renal, and/or hepatic dysfunction (according to the local PI)
- - No informed consent provided
- Patient is not enrolled and followed as provided in Precision 1
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