Cancer genome analysis nearing clinical application at the National Center for Tumour Diseases Heidelberg

Doctors and scientists from the National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT), the Institute of Pathology at Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD) and the German Cancer Consortium (DKTK) completed a prospective study that systematically verified data on cancer genome analysis. Conducted over a period of three years, the study examined more than 200 patients with tumor diseases that are at an advanced stage or difficult to treat who underwent a cancer genome analysis within the scope of the NCT/DKTK-MASTER program. In the validation study as part of the program, the scientists show how comprehensive cancer genome analysis and evaluation can be optimized in such a way that they can be used for clinical application.

With the MASTER program (Molecularly Aided Stratification for Tumor Eradication), the NCT Heidelberg along with its partners based in Heidelberg, DKFZ, and UKHD, has created the infrastructures required to make comprehensive cancer genome analysis an integral part of molecular diagnosis in clinical practice. The program has been extended to all seven DKTK partner sites in Germany, also by setting up and networking among the molecular tumor boards. NCT and UKHD offer cancer patients wide-ranging molecular analysis tailored to match the individual clinical situation. Complementary to the specific genome analysis which is available to all oncology patients at the Heidelberg sites who have been given the corresponding clinical diagnosis, the MASTER program strives to identify new tumor treatment approaches adapted to the individual tumor profile for young patients with cancer in advanced stages and patients with rare forms of cancer by applying a wide-ranging cancer genome analysis.

In the present study, researchers analyzed more than 200 cancer patients at all DKTK sites during the period from 2013 to 2016 who underwent comprehensive cancer genome analysis within the scope of the MASTER program. The tests aimed to verify the discovered gene changes by using established methods long since used in cancer diagnosis.

The National Center for Tumor Diseases (NCT) Heidelberg is a joint institution of the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Heidelberg University Hospital (UKHD), and German Cancer Aid.

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Point of contact for patients and referring physicians
To register or ask questions about the NCT MASTER program, please send an email to the study office at Currently, young patients (< 50 years of age) or patients with rare tumors are included in the study.

Original publication:
A. Lier, R. Penzel, C. Heining et al. (2018) Validating Comprehensive Next-Generation Sequencing Results for Precision Oncology: The NCT/DKTK MASTER Experience. JCO Precision Oncology. DOI 10.1200/PO.18.00171

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