SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Top of the line, cutting-edge cancer testing capabilities. That is what Avera Health is hoping to bring to communities including Sioux Falls, Aberdeen, Mitchell and Pierre over the course of the next five years in the form of a study to identify patterns of cancer risk and progression in patients here in South Dakota.
This study comes as a partnership with Sema4, an east coast AI-driven clinical data intelligence company. The Avera/Sema4 Oncology and Analytics Protocol (ASAP) study will be a 5-year process, and once at full capacity, will hope to enroll up to 3,000 patients per year.
Participants in the study will receive genomic sequencing of their tumor and hereditary cancer and pharmacogenomics testing to identify targeted, personalized treatment options. Asked to simplify the language, Avera’s Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Director of Cancer Research, Casey Williams told KELOLAND News that will be offered is top of the line testing for the purposes of early risk identification and detection, prevention and treatment.
Both people diagnosed with cancer and those at risk of developing cancer will be enrolled in the study. For those at risk, but who do not have cancer, this sort of testing can help identify the likelihood that cancer will develop, and aid in constructing a prevention plan to mitigate the risks.
For those who have cancer or may have had a tumor surgically removed, this testing can help predict the risk of recurrence.
Williams says that currently, this sort of testing is often reserved only for those with advanced-stage cancer, even while the pharmaceutical industry is working on drugs and treatment to aid in early detection and treatment. He says the goal of this project is to further democratize testing.
For participants in the trial, testing may include tissue samples from those with cancer, as well as blood draws, optional stool sampling and access to patient medical records. Williams also notes that one pre-requisite for the study is a willingness to receive your test results. Many people are willing to pitch in to help others, but may be hesitant to receive concerning information about their own family medical outlook, Williams explained.
For those interested in taking part in the study, which is currently running only in Sioux Falls, the first step is to consult with your own Avera physician.