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Sanford Health studying impact of precision medicine cancer treatments

October 10, 2016

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A new study open and enrolling patients at Sanford Health is exploring how genomic profiling might help improve treatment options for patients with advanced or rare forms of cancer. The COMPASS study examines the latest genetic sequencing tools to personalize cancer treatments based on each patient's genomic information.

Steven Powell, M.D., and Sam Milanovich, M.D., both oncologists and cancer researchers, are leading the COMPASS trial. Milanovich brings pediatric expertise to the study.

"A cancer's genetic code holds information that is vital to understanding how cancer affects each person differently," said Powell. "By better understanding cancer genomics, we can identify treatment options that may have not previously been available. COMPASS seeks to help us understand how this testing can be most effectively used for our patients."

COMPASS, which stands for Community Oncology use of Molecular Profiling to personalize the Approach to Specialized cancer treatment at Sanford, analyzes treatment patterns of patients who have profiling completed on tumor tissue or blood samples using validated next-generation sequencing technology from certified commercial laboratories as part of their cancer management. The resulting data is reviewed by the Sanford Genomic Tumor Board to help guide the decision process for the treating cancer team, patient and family. This committee is a panel of experts from across the Sanford footprint in cancer and genetics.

"Many rare and aggressive childhood cancers have limited treatment options," said Milanovich. "COMPASS may help us better understand how cutting-edge genomic testing can be used to open new treatment options and improve therapy for children with cancer."

COMPASS is a follow-up study to GEMMA, which enrolled 120 patients and demonstrated molecular profiling increases awareness of clinical trial and off label treatment options for patients with incurable cancer across Sanford. As part of these trials, the Sanford team has brought in more than 60 different personalized therapy options for patients through clinical trials in the past two years.

To be eligible for COMPASS, participants must have an advanced stage of cancer or have cancer that has no established course of treatment. The study is open to both adult and pediatric patients older than four weeks of age.
COMPASS has enrollment sites across Sanford. For more information or to enroll, call 877-652-1838.

About Sanford Health

Sanford Health is an integrated health system headquartered in the Dakotas. It is one of the largest health systems in the nation with 43 hospitals and nearly 250 clinics in nine states and four countries. Sanford Health's 27,000 employees, including 1,400 physicians, make it the largest employer in the Dakotas. Nearly $1 billion in gifts from philanthropist Denny Sanford have allowed for several initiatives, including global children's clinics, genomic medicine and specialized centers researching cures for type 1 diabetes, breast cancer and other diseases. For more information, visit

Sanford Health/Sanford Research

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