Kitajewski discussing biomarkers at Cancer Action Day

The University of Illinois Cancer Center is one of a number of healthcare organizations supporting Illinois HB 1779, which will expand appropriate coverage of biomarker testing for state-regulated public and private insurance plans, and Jan Kitajewski, director of the University of Illinois Cancer Center, will discuss a key component of the legislation (the importance of biomarkers) at Cancer Action Day on Monday, May 3. The event is sponsored by the American Cancer Society in Illinois.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mary E. Flowers, has unanimously passed in the House and now moves to the Senate. Sen. Antonio Munoz is sponsoring the bill in the Senate.

A “biomarker” is a sign of disease or abnormal function that can be measured in blood, tissue or bodily fluid. In cancer care, biomarkers are often used to help determine the best treatment for a patient. Biomarker testing is the analysis of a patient’s tissue, blood or fluid biospecimen for the presence of a biomarker. Biomarker testing includes single-analyte tests, multi-plex panel tests, and partial or whole genome sequencing. Biomarker testing is an important step to accessing precision medicine which includes targeted therapies that can lead to improved survivorship and better quality of life for patients.

Timely access to guideline-indicated comprehensive biomarker testing can help achieve the triple aim of health care including better health outcomes, improved quality of life and reduced costs, according to the American Cancer Society.

When doctors connect patients to the most effective treatment for their cancer, patients can avoid treatments that will be ineffective or have more adverse effects.