Cancer Biomarkers: The Promises and Challenges of Improving Detection and Treatment


Report at a Glance

  • Report Brief (PDF)

Despite the progress that has been made in cancer research and treatment, cancer still poses a threat to many Americans. Currently, many cancer patients are diagnosed when their disease is too far advanced to be cured, and most cancer treatments are effective in only a minority of those undergoing therapy. The future of cancer treatment lies in improved detection and screenings, and individually tailored treatments – an approach known as personalized medicine. However, these advances rely on the development of biomarkers.

An IOM committee was convened to review biomarker research, development, and implementation. The committee was asked to examine questions regarding the discovery, development, adoption, and use of biomarkers for cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment, with the goal of identifying obstacles to progress that could potentially be overcome through policy changes. 

The committee's recommendations (12 of them) fall into 3 categories:

  • Methods, Tools, and Resources Needed to Discover and Develop Biomarkers;
  • Guidelines, Standards, Oversight, and Incentives Needed for Biomarker Development; and,
  • Methods and Processes Needed for Clinical Evaluation and Adoption. 

 For a full list of recommendations, please see the report brief or full report.