Background: Due to rapid technical advances, steeply declining sequencing costs, and the ever-increasing number of targeted therapies, it can be expected that extensive tumor sequencing such as whole-exome and whole-genome sequencing will soon be applied in standard care. Clinicians will thus be confronted with increasingly complex genetic information and multiple test-platforms to choose from. General medical training, meanwhile, can hardly keep up with the pace of innovation. Consequently, there is a rapidly growing gap between clinical knowledge and genetic potential in cancer care. Multidisciplinary Molecular Tumor Boards (MTBs) have been suggested as a means to address this disparity, but shared experiences are scarce in literature and no quality requirements or guidelines have been published to date.
Methods: Based on literature review, a survey among hospitals in The Netherlands, and our own experience with the establishment of a nationally operating MTB, this article evaluates current knowledge and unmet needs and lays out a strategy for successful MTB implementation.
Results: Having access to an MTB can improve and increase the application of genetics-guided cancer care. In our survey, however, <50% of hospitals and only 5% of nonacademic hospitals had access to an MTB. In addition, current MTBs vary widely in terms of composition, tasks, tools, and workflow. This may not only lead to variation in quality of care but also hinders data sharing and thus creation of an effective learning community.
Conclusions: This article acknowledges a leading role for MTBs to govern (extensive) tumor sequencing into daily practice and proposes three basic necessities for successful MTB implementation: (i) global harmonization in cancer sequencing practices and procedures, (ii) minimal member and operational requirements, and (iii) an appropriate unsolicited findings policy. Meeting these prerequisites would not only optimize MTB functioning but also improve general interpretation and application of genomics-guided cancer care.