How comparative effectiveness research can help advance 'personalized medicine' in cancer treatment.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Health affairs (Project Hope), Volume 30, Issue 12, p.2259-68 (2011)


2011, Center-Authored Paper, Jan 12, January 2012, Public Health Sciences Division


The use of biomarkers to "personalize" cancer treatment--identifying discrete genes, proteins, or other indicators that can differentiate one type of cancer from another and enable the use of highly tailored therapies--offers tremendous potential for improved outcomes and lower treatment costs. However, the rapid development of cancer biomarker, or genomic, tests--combined with a paucity of evidence to support the effectiveness of the tests--presents a challenge for patients, clinicians, and other stakeholders. In this article we propose that comparative effectiveness research be used to strengthen what is now a haphazard process for developing and marketing cancer biomarker tests. We suggest novel funding approaches and a systematic process for moving from regulatory approval to the generation of evidence that meets the needs of stakeholders and, ultimately, patients.