The Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative: Implementing a Community Cancer Genomics Program Across an Entire Rural State

Document Type


Publication Date



Center for Interdisciplinary Population & Health Research, MaineHealth Institute for Research, Oncology

Journal Title

JCO precision oncology

MeSH Headings

Child; Humans; Female; Neoplasms (diagnosis, genetics, therapy); Maine; Precision Medicine; Medical Oncology; Genomics


PURPOSE: The Maine Cancer Genomics Initiative (MCGI) aimed to overcome patient- and provider-level barriers to using genomic tumor testing (GTT) in rural practices by providing genomic tumor boards (GTBs), clinician education, and access to comprehensive large-panel next-generation sequencing to all patients with cancer in Maine. This paper describes the successful implementation of the initiative and three key services made operative between 2016 and 2020. METHODS: A community-inclusive, hub-and-spoke approach was taken to implement the three program components: (1) a centralized GTB program; (2) a modular online education program, designed using an iterative approach with broad clinical stakeholders; and (3) GTT free of charge to clinicians and patients. Implementation timelines, participation metrics, and survey data were used to describe the rollout. RESULTS: The MCGI was launched over an 18-month period at all 19 oncology practices in the State. Seventy-nine physicians (66 medical oncologists, 5 gynecologic oncologists, 1 neuro-oncologist, and 7 pediatric oncologists) enrolled on the study, representing 100% of all practicing oncologists in Maine. Between July 2017 and September 2020, 1610 patients were enrolled. A total of 515 cases were discussed by 47 (73%) clinicians in 196 GTBs. Clinicians who participated in the GTBs enrolled significantly more patients on the study, stayed in Maine, and reported less time spent in clinical patient care. CONCLUSION: The MCGI was able to engage geographically and culturally disparate cancer care practices in a precision oncology program using a hub-and-spoke model. By facilitating access to GTT, structured education, and GTBs, we narrowed the gap in the implementation of precision oncology in one of the most rural states in the country.

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