In the competitive oncology diagnostics market, diagnostic companies need salient marketing strategies to ensure that their tests are on the oncologist’s radar. By understanding oncologist needs and preferences, companies will be able to focus their efforts on those that will lead to the incorporation of their test into clinical practice.
In late 2010, Frost & Sullivan surveyed 50 oncologists. The majority of oncologists surveyed believe that test vendors’ marketing efforts were only somewhat effective or not effective at all. This result illuminates that more often than not, diagnostic firms miss the mark when targeting their key customer.
The complexity of cancer characterization and its multiple stages produces multiple needs in patient management like screening, diagnosis, prognostic prediction, therapy guidance, and treatment or relapse monitoring. When asked what they believe is the greatest unmet clinical need in patient management, 62% of the surveyed oncologists indicated that they currently need the most help in therapy prediction. This topped the list of patient-management areas with disease screening ranked next with only 20% of oncologists indicating this was an area of unmet need. The remaining patient-management areas—monitoring, prognostic prediction, and diagnosis—were rated at 6% each.
Oncologists were also asked for their opinions on molecular-based diagnostics. One in four of the oncologists surveyed believe nucleic acid-based markers are significantly more reliable than protein-based markers. Over half of the oncologists feel less strongly, but still believe that nucleic acid-based markers are somewhat more reliable than or as reliable as protein-based markers. Only 4% of respondents believe that nucleic acid-based biomarkers are less reliable.
These findings confirm the growing acceptance of a molecular approach to cancer diagnostics. Moreover, 18% of respondents didn’t have an opinion, indicating a strong need for additional knowledge and learning. Despite the abundance of products, there is market demand for new tests to address the toughest challenges in patient-therapy prediction. In addition, molecular diagnostics will play a significant role as oncologists are turning to molecular tools to solve current and anticipated challenges in their practice