MCGI Newsletter

Your quarterly update from the MCGI team
July— September 2020

 Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative Caribou 

Maine's most isolated cancer patients

At the northern edge of Caribou is the Jefferson Cary Cancer Center, where Dr. Espinosa and his colleagues serve oncology patients all over Aroostook County. Despite their geographic isolation, these patients have access to the latest advances in precision cancer care through MCGI. 

Cancer is the leading cause of death in Maine, and its citizens have a higher-than-average risk of cancer and a higher cancer mortality rate than the rest of the nation. Espinosa’s Aroostook County patients are especially vulnerable.  “We have an aging population that has been exposed to pesticides and other agricultural hazards over the years. Many people here have also been exposed to other environmental hazards while working in paper mills, logging and lumber.” The sheer paucity of medical practices means less cancer screening than in more urban areas, he says, with the result that “by the time patients come up to our clinic, they may have two or more different malignancies at the same time, or are in advanced stages where a cure is no longer possible.”

To date, Espinosa’s team has recruited 43 cancer patients to MCGI, and treatment regimens have already been revised for four of the patients based on their test results. Espinosa says he tells all his patients that, even if their tests don’t immediately lead to new treatment options, “they may help in the fourth, fifth or sixth line of therapy down the line. It's really giving us peace of mind on long-term management. Patients can stay local and receive treatments here before going to clinical trials outside the County.”

Read more about Dr. Espinosa and the Jefferson Cary Cancer Center in the full story and video here.

2020 Genomic Tumor Board Update 

Genomic Tumor Board (GTB) sessions are a series of meetings coordinated as part of MCGI. During a GTB meeting, results from clinical genomic tumor tests are discussed with a panel of expert advisors, oncologists and pathologists. GTB sessions address a substantial barrier to wider adoption of cancer genomic testing in clinical care — the interpretation of test results. The information in a test report includes a significant amount of curated data. However, the process of interpreting this information and using it in clinical care protocols can be time consuming. GTBs are designed to effectively and efficiently facilitate this process, leading to informed treatment decisions.  

Our GTB series has been offered in a hybrid in-person/virtual format since its inception. This longstanding experience with video-teleconference platforms enabled the MCGI team to easily pivot to an all-virtual format during the pandemic. We have continued to provide expert interpretation support to treating clinicians. This affords the assembled community of M.D.s the opportunity to discuss potential treatment options for their patients. 

Clinicians attending GTB sessions benefit from first-hand input from subject matter experts in the field of oncology in a discussion moderated by MCGI Medical Director Jens Rueter, M.D. After each meeting, minutes for the session detailing the discussion and potential treatment options are distributed to attendees. 

The MCGI GTB series has a full schedule for the fall of 2020. Session dates for 2021 will be posted as they are scheduled.


Save the Date for the Virtual 2021 MCGI Forum 

In response to the continually evolving circumstances associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, the MCGI team will host the next MCGI Forum as a completely virtual event next Spring. We invite you to join us for the 4th Annual MCGI Forum, March 26 – 27, 2021.

This year's featured speakers will include practitioners from the disciplines of pediatric oncology and immune-oncology, as well as translational precision medicine, highlighting successes in evidence-based therapies. The goal of the Forum is to bring the Maine oncology community together to share new developments including the transition to a new phase of the MCGI study.

For additional information, and to register for this free event, please visit our event page here. We look forward to seeing you virtually in March!