The Indispensable Role of Pathologists to the Future of Precision Oncology
The impact of precision medicine is on everyone’s mind these days—especially those on the front lines of cancer care. So, it was an honor to speak with, and get the perspective of, one of the most vocal and forward-thinking pathologists in oncology today: Dr. Tony Magliocco, Chair of the Department of Pathology and Executive Director of Esoteric Laboratory Services at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.
Listen to the full episode above to learn more and download the transcript here.
I asked Dr. Magliocco about the community pathologist’s ability to keep up with emerging biomarkers and data to effectively advise cancer treating physicians. He works at one of the largest and most innovative cancer centers in the nation, and he recognizes the intense pressure pathologists are under to produce advanced tests that enable physicians to better understand and treat cancer. To do that, he says, they must become comfortable with technologies that enable next-generation sequencing, and for community pathologists who are already multi-tasking that’s a tall order.
Currently, only a subset of pathologists have the expertise and specific training in molecular diagnostic technology to use and analyze the data. Dr. Magliocco cautions that the medical community can’t realize the potential of personalized oncology without full molecular services that enable the most advanced testing, the most efficient costing, and the fastest turnaround time possible. Pathologists need support to get there.
Some experts have suggested the role of pathologists will diminish as precision medicine evolves, but Dr. Magliocco believes that, as the go-to genomic experts, pathologists are uniquely positioned to move the field forward.
In addition to the expanding role of pathologists, we also discussed another challenge impeding the development of molecular tests, which is that insurers still believe they are research and not clinically necessary. Dr. Magliocco points out that the cost of testing and laboratory services is actually extremely cost effective, representing less than 3% of the overall medical budget, yet contributing to nearly 90% of actionable information. So, one of the biggest challenges is helping insurers understand how molecular tests should be used and that they have transitioned from research into truly clinical care.
My conversation with Dr. Magliocco revealed what a revolutionary time this is for pathology and genomics, and the broad opportunities available to pathologists who are willing to embrace it.
Listen to the full episode above.
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About Our Guest
Anthony Magliocco, MD is the Executive Director of Esoteric Lab Services at H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida.
He has over 20 years of experience in cancer pathology and precision oncology along with molecular diagnostics and translational cancer research. He currently leads the Anatomic Pathology Department at the Moffitt Cancer Center and is an innovative leader with extensive expertise in surgical and molecular pathology. Dr. Magliocco has direct experience in clinical biomarker assay design, novel assay implementation, biomarker research, digital pathology and translational cancer research.