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Oncology workforce skills and competencies required for molecular medicine

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In the past decade, the costs associated with DNA sequencing technology, known as Next Generation Sequencing (NGS), have significantly declined.1 The declining cost of technology and increased knowledge of the human genome have had a major impact within oncology. As an oncology pharmacist I have witnessed the growing number of targeted agents and immunotherapies available to patients. Recognising this, I completed a Masters qualification in genomic medicine and sit on the Newcastle Genomics Tumour Advisory Board (GTAB). However, I still find it challenging to maintain up-to-date clinical knowledge regarding the biology, prognostic impact and treatment implications of oncogenic gene mutations. The impact of ‘personalised oncology’ on the cancer services' workforce requires careful assessment and this editorial will address the challenges and subsequent training requirements for healthcare professionals working in oncology.

Cancer treatment is in a transition phase from where treatment decisions are organ of origin- or stage-based, to ‘personalised oncology’ where treatment is primarily molecular-based, as highlighted by the first European tumour agnostic licence for larotrectinib in September 2019. Recently, NGS gene panels have been introduced which allow the parallel evaluation of several clinically actionable genes which facilitate the selection of optimal therapy. The declining cost of sequencing technology and the increasing number of promising tumour agnostic therapies means that NGS testing at diagnosis for multiple cancer-related gene changes is increasing in clinical utility and could soon be mainstream practice. This may also be the cheapest and …

Correspondence to Emma Groves, Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Trust, Newcastle Upon Tyne, UK; emmagroves92{at}outlook.com

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