We know each cancer is different, yet we treat them much the same. A major challenge is that we don’t have the information to know ahead of time which treatments will work and which won't. This means that frequently clinicians either overtreat or undertreat cancers, or there is no meaningful treatment at all. This results in significant variation in care across healthcare systems and unsustainable growth in healthcare expenditure as populations age and cancer risk is increased.
This is important as cancer incidence and deaths are rising worldwide as a result of the growth and aging of the human population. There were 17 million new cases of cancer (all cancers combined excluding non-melanoma skin cancer) worldwide in 2018 and it is predicted there will be 27.5 million new cancer cases worldwide each year by 2040; an increase of 61.7% from 2018, if recent trends in incidence of major cancers and population growth continue globally.
The ability to rapidly generate massive ‘omics datasets, at an ever-decreasing cost, has driven a new era in the world of medicine which promises to optimally manage disease, leading to improvements in outcomes for patients and efficiencies in healthcare systems. Whilst efforts over the last decade have mapped the genomic alterations that characterise many cancer types, the time has come to translate this knowledge and approaches to improve outcomes for people affected by cancer.
The next phase of the ICGC
Accelerating Research in Genomic Oncology, has been designed with patients at the centre of the mission;
aspiring to better address the questions every cancer patient deserves an answer to, such as “which treatment will be most effective for me and the likely outcome"
Numerous platforms for various cancer types have been established to address these vital questions in many countries around the world. Whilst these build on our knowledge base, there are currently no mechanisms to standardise the complex analyses, or efficient mechanisms for data sharing for cancer that will enable composite and pooled analyses of data from around the world. Based on the 10-year ICGC experience, ARGO stands poised to accelerate cancer research for the international community through its established infrastructure, expertise and workflows.
ICGC-ARGO will analyse specimens from cancer patients with high quality clinical data to address outstanding questions that are vital to our quest to defeat cancer. These key key clinical questions and patient clinical data drive the interrogation of cancer genomes, and bring experts together to translate this knowledge in a way that impacts patients.
Over the next ten years ICGC-ARGO aims to deliver a million patient-years of precision oncology knowledge to the world.
To achieve this ICGC-ARGO will:
- Coordinate the integration of genomic and phenotypic data on 200,000 cancer patients enrolled in clinical trials or from well annotated cohorts within research programs around the world.
- Use this detailed clinical and genomic data to address key clinical and biological questions of relevance to specific cancer types,
- Make the data available to the entire research community in a rapid and responsible way, to accelerate research into the causes and control of cancer.
The ARGO project will aim to address the following specific questions:
- How do we use current treatments better?
- How does a cancer change with time and treatment?
- How do we practically implement these approaches in healthcare and drug development?
- How do we advance early detection and ultimately prevent cancer?
The project size and scope will enable:
- An understanding of the regional differences in disease around the world.
- The heterogeneity of cancer.
- The diversity of environmental risk factors.
- Describe new cancers with a common genomic background, and common outcomes; and the many different combinations of therapeutic interventions.
You can read more about the background to ICGC-ARGO in more detail in the case for the International Cancer Genome Consortium for Medicine.