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Implementing gene curation for hereditary cancer susceptibility in Australia: achieving consensus on genes with clinical utility

Abstract

Background The strength of evidence supporting the validity of gene-disease relationships is variable. Hereditary cancer has the additional complexity of low or moderate penetrance for some confirmed disease-associated alleles.

Methods To promote national consistency in interpretation of hereditary cancer/tumour gene test results, we requested opinions of representatives from Australian Family Cancer Clinics regarding the clinical utility of 157 genes initially collated for a national research project. Viewpoints were sought by initial survey, face-to-face workshop and follow-up survey. Subsequent review was undertaken by the eviQ Cancer Genetics Reference Committee, a national resource providing evidence-based and consensus-driven cancer treatment protocols.

Results Genes were categorised by clinical actionability as: relevant for testing on presentation of common cancer/tumour types (n=45); relevant for testing in the context of specific rare phenotypes (n=74); insufficient clinical utility (n=34) or contentious clinical utility (n=3). Opinions for several genes altered during the study time frame, due to new information.

Conclusion Through an iterative process, consensus was achieved on genes with clinical utility for hereditary cancer/tumour conditions in the Australian setting. This study highlighted need for regular review of gene-disease lists, a role assumed in Australia for hereditary cancer/tumour predisposition genes by the eviQ Cancer Genetics Reference Committee.

  • genetic testing
  • clinical decision-making
  • genetic counseling
  • genetic predisposition to disease
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