to Temodar in patients with glioblastoma, though
Salmi has a different type of glioma. She had her
most recent scan in May 2017, and even though the
scans showed no new tumor growth, she knows she
hasn’t been cured.
by Medicare, and “there is resistance from insurance
companies” to reimburse for them, says Lou.
“I still have cancer in my brain,” she says, “but
it’s just not growing.” In the event the tumor does
grow back, genomic information gained from being
tested could point her toward clinical trials or new
targeted treatments. She has also submitted saliva
samples for a study following long-term survivors
of low-grade brain tumors to look for markers that
might be associated with survival.
Molecular analysis of brain cancer is not yet the
universal standard of care, says Arons, although he
predicts it will be in the next few years. Because these
tests haven’t been associated with a clear patient
benefit in all cases, they’re not universally covered
This makes for a frustrating Catch-22: Information
derived from molecular testing hasn’t been shown
to improve survival, but researchers won’t be able to
explore new treatments without more tumors being
tested. In other tumor types—like lung and breast
cancers—genomic testing has already influenced the
development of new drugs and guided oncologists to
use targeted therapies for patients whose tumors have
specific mutations. Patients, researchers and oncolo-
gists all want to see that kind of shift in brain cancer.
Lou says the rapidly growing knowledge of the
molecular basis of the disease could make it possible.
“The story is still being written,” he says.
CancerToday_AD_171208.pdf 1 12/8/17 1:12 PM
STEPHEN ORNES, a contributing writer for Cancer Today, lives in
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