Cancer Meets Precision Medicine: The Color Test for Risk of Common Hereditary Cancers in Women and Men
One year ago, the Color Test launched to democratize access to genetic testing and preventative health information. Color’s physician-ordered test for breast and ovarian cancer risk has helped people and their providers across the globe learn their risk in an affordable and convenient way.
Today, Color is broadening the Color Test to 30 genes that includes many of the most common hereditary cancers for women and men including breast, colorectal, melanoma, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, stomach and uterine cancers. Genes included on the broader panel can significantly impact an individual’s risk of these cancers. For example, an APC mutation can increase the risk of colorectal cancer in both women and men up to 70–100% by age 80. Similarly, a BRCA1 mutation can increase a woman’s lifetime risk of developing breast cancer up to 80%. It has been 20 years since the discovery of the BRCA1 gene, yet the selection criteria for individuals who can receive genetic testing for cancer risk-increasing mutations remains restrictive. In fact, 50% of individuals with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation would not qualify for genetic testing according to common insurance reimbursement guidelines.
When we announced one year ago that Color’s genetic test for breast and ovarian cancer risk would be $249, individuals and healthcare providers from around the world expressed gratitude that a service which had been inaccessible for so many years was finally affordable. In the spirit of continuing to remove cost as a barrier, Color has maintained the price of $249 for this broader test — 10% of the cost of many comparable tests that normally cost up to thousands of dollars. The Color Test will continue to include genetic counseling as part of every purchase, to ensure that individuals have access to a board-certified, state-licensed medical professional to help them and their physician in understanding their results.
Year In Review
Given that Color launched a year ago, the launch of Color’s test for hereditary cancer risk is a good opportunity to review some of the most important milestones from this year:
Color Makes Genetic Testing For Breast And Ovarian Cancer Risk Accessible
The Color 19-gene, physician-ordered test, for breast and ovarian cancer risk (including BRCA1, BRCA2 and other key genes) launched at the end of April 2015 to democratize access to genetic testing in a responsible way. We are proud to enable testing for people who would not be able to afford it due to prior insurance code use, a lack of full family history or other variety of reasons that prevented people from having access to testing.
Color is now excited to extend its test to 30 genes and 8 of the most common hereditary cancers.
Color Selected For 100,000 Women WISDOM Study
In October 2015, Color announced its selection as the exclusive genomics partner for the 100,000 women Athena WISDOM Study. The WISDOM Study is coordinated across the 5 University of California medical centers — UCSF, UCLA, UCSD, UC Irvine and UC Davis as well as Sanford Health. This is the first time that a personalized breast cancer screening study of this magnitude that includes genetic testing has been pursued.
“Color’s test allows us to incorporate genetic testing as part of a personalized screening strategy. We can include the genetic testing, at scale, and do so in a high quality way.”
— Dr. Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, Professor of Surgery and Director of the Carol Franc Buck Breast Care Center at UCSF
Visa And 20 Other Companies Add Color Test As Benefit
Last October, we launched the Color Benefits Program, through which innovative companies are covering part or all of the cost of testing for their employees. Companies like Visa, Slack, Stripe, Instacart and others were the first to make such a benefit available to their entire employee population and their families.
“Visa offers the Color Test because it’s a perfect fit with our preventive health strategy. Our employees love it, and we’ve seen exceptionally strong utilization. From a cost perspective, it was a no-brainer for us, as avoiding even one late-stage cancer case would cover the entire cost of the program.”
— Amanda McCullough, Vice President, Global Benefits at Visa
Color Launches Platform For Healthcare Providers, Freeing them to Focus on Patients
Color has built a series of tools over the last few months to simplify doctors’ lives. We hope to free doctors from excessively burdensome paperwork so they can spend more time with patients.
To this end, Color launched the following set of tools in the last 6 months:
- Provider Platform: offers easy access for doctors to place orders and track status of testing
- Kits In Office: allows doctors to conveniently administer the Color Test in their clinic
- International Orders: provides support to doctors in over 100 countries
Color Recognized by White House Precision Medicine Initiative: The Future of Health is Data
In February 2016, Color was recognized in the White House Precision Medicine Initiative Fact Sheet, along with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, as an organization that is “Bringing Access To Precision Medicine To All”.
As part of PMI, Color pledged to double the number of underserved individuals who receive the Color Test at no cost through the Every Woman Program in 2016. Color also pledged to double the number of cancer centers that are Every Woman Program partners, which now include:
- University of Washington Medical Center
- UCSF Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program
- University of Pennsylvania Medicine’s Abramson Cancer Center
- UC San Diego Moores Cancer Center
- Morehouse School of Medicine
Color Became Available in More than 100 Countries
Since Color launched in 2015, we received emails and calls from people around the world requesting access to affordable genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer risk. In March, Color expanded access to high-quality, physician-ordered genetic testing to more than 100 countries (two times the number of member countries the United Nations had when it started).
The Year Ahead
As the Color Test enters its second year, providing more information for women and men about hereditary cancer risk, we look forward to having the opportunity to help more people across the world lead longer and healthier lives. We say that information is power, but perhaps we should change that to say that information is empowering. It gives us and our healthcare providers the opportunity to make better and more informed choices.
We believe that our society’s road to better managing cancer will emerge out of combination of science (better understanding the data in our bodies), access (more patients and doctors being able to access this information in an affordable and understandable manner) and action (the support systems and tools that help us execute the choices we make based on the scientific and health information at our disposal).