The World Conference on Lung Cancer (WCLC) wrapped in Barcelona on Tuesday, and most of our Lung-MAP leadership team was there to give and get news on thoracic oncology research.

News overall was largely good. Screening to catch early lung cancer works, especially when low-dose CT scans are accompanied by appropriate blood work. Immunotherapy continues to help a substantial percentage of patients live longer. Video-assisted lung surgery, compared with open surgery, reduces complications and hospital stays.

It should be noted results from our Lung-MAP precision medicine trial – presented Monday in a high-profile WCLC session by Lung-MAP investigator Joshua Roth, PhD, MHA – sounded a note of caution.

Roth, an assistant member of the Hutchinson Institute for Cancer Research Outcomes (HICOR) at Fred Hutch, said most patients in his Lung-MAP pilot showed serious gaps in knowledge about the genomic test results they received as part of this biomarker-driven clinical trial.

According to a telephone survey of Lung-MAP patients, Roth found that 86 percent correctly knew that their test results would be used to select their treatment regimen. Another 83 percent also reported that they received enough information about their tests to understand the benefits of enrolling in Lung-MAP. But only 9 percent correctly knew that the somatic testing they had could not predict if a family member was at increased risk of getting cancer. And only 12 percent correctly knew that their results cannot predict their own increased risk of getting other diseases.

These findings bear further analysis and discussion. Genetic testing is a cornerstone of modern precision medicine and will remain a hallmark of future cancer trials. Apparently, we’re not doing enough to educate patients about this testing and its implications.

In a press release , Roth said: “Given the public conversation about precision medicine, and the sharp increase in biomarker-driven cancer clinical trials, it’s clear that lot of people don’t really understand these complex trials and the testing that drives them. We need to learn more about the public’s knowledge gaps so we can fill them.”

Patients aren’t the only ones lacking in knowledge, according to other news out of Barcelona. A survey of cancer specialists from 102 countries conducted by the International Association for the Study of Lung Cancer, which puts on the WCLC, showed that one-third weren’t aware of the existence of evidence-based guidelines for use of molecular testing in lung cancer.

Of course, I understand genetic testing is complicated medically and scientifically, and sharing genetic information is ethically tricky. But we must do a better job educating patients – and providers – about the tools that can help personalize treatments and deliver better, longer lives.

I’m still  proud that, when it launched five years ago, Lung-MAP was the first NCI-supported precision medicine trial. Our team is still influencing the field and advancing knowledge about lung cancer treatments that do, and don’t, work.

I extend a special thanks to Dr. Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulou, a Lung-MAP study chair, for her prior leadership. This month, she leaves M.D. Anderson Cancer Center and Lung-MAP to join Pfizer as the new clinical development leader in its oncology unit. I am so grateful to Vali for all she’s done to make Lung-MAP a success. Thanks also to Drs. Roy Herbst, David Gandara, Fred Hirsch, Karen Kelly, Philip Mack, and Mary Redman for continuing to carry the Lung-MAP torch.