Journal of Genetic Counseling

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 187–196 | Cite as

Physician Experiences and Understanding of Genomic Sequencing in Oncology

  • Caroline M. Weipert
  • Kerry A. Ryan
  • Jessica N. Everett
  • Beverly M. Yashar
  • Arul M. Chinnaiyan
  • J. Scott Roberts
  • Raymond De Vries
  • Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher
  • Victoria M. Raymond
Original Research


The amount of information produced by genomic sequencing is vast, technically complicated, and can be difficult to interpret. Appropriately tailoring genomic information for non-geneticists is an essential next step in the clinical use of genomic sequencing. To initiate development of a framework for genomic results communication, we conducted eighteen qualitative interviews with oncologists who had referred adult cancer patients to a matched tumor-normal tissue genomic sequencing study. In our qualitative analysis, we found varied levels of clinician knowledge relating to sequencing technology, the scope of the tumor genomic sequencing study, and incidental germline findings. Clinicians expressed a perceived need for more genetics education. Additionally, they had a variety of suggestions for improving results reports and possible resources to aid in results interpretation. Most clinicians felt genetic counselors were needed when incidental germline findings were identified. Our research suggests that more consistent genetics education is imperative in ensuring the proper utilization of genomic sequencing in cancer care. Clinician suggestions for results interpretation resources and results report modifications could be used to improve communication. Clinicians’ perceived need to involve genetic counselors when incidental germline findings were found suggests genetic specialists could play a critical role in ensuring patients receive appropriate follow-up.


Genomics Medical oncology Cancer genomics Physicians Individualized medicine 


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Michigan Association of Genetic Counselors University of Michigan Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant KR, JNE, JSR, RD, BJZ, AC and VMR are supported by NIH Clinical Sequencing Exploratory Research (CSER) Award NIH 1UM1HG006508.


Victoria M. Raymond is currently an employee at Trovagene, Inc. This work was completed prior to establishment of this relationship.

Arul M. Chinnaiyan: Stock in Oncofusion Therapeutics, Armune Bioscience; Consulting/Advisory role: Oncofusion Therapeutics, Tempus, Armune; Patent/IP with University of Michigan.

Conflict of Interest

Caroline M. Weipert, Kerry A. Ryan, Jessica N. Everett, Beverly M. Yashar, Arul M. Chinnaiyan, J. Scott Roberts, Raymond De Vries, Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher, and Victoria M. Raymond declare no conflict of interest.

Human Studies and Informed Consent

All procedures performed in studies involved human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the responsible committee on human experimentation (institutional and national) and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. This study was deemed exempt from federal regulations by the University of Michigan’s Institutional Review Board.

Animal Studies

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

Supplementary material

10897_2017_134_MOESM1_ESM.doc (32 kb)
ESM 1 (DOC 32 kb)
10897_2017_134_MOESM2_ESM.doc (54 kb)
ESM 2 (DOC 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© National Society of Genetic Counselors, Inc. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Caroline M. Weipert
    • 1
  • Kerry A. Ryan
    • 2
  • Jessica N. Everett
    • 3
  • Beverly M. Yashar
    • 1
  • Arul M. Chinnaiyan
    • 4
    • 5
  • J. Scott Roberts
    • 6
  • Raymond De Vries
    • 2
    • 7
  • Brian J. Zikmund-Fisher
    • 2
    • 6
  • Victoria M. Raymond
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Human GeneticsUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  2. 2.Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine, Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  3. 3.Department of Internal MedicineUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  4. 4.Michigan Center for Translational PathologyUniversity of Michigan Medical SchoolAnn ArborUSA
  5. 5.Department of PathologyUniversity of Michigan Medical SchoolAnn ArborUSA
  6. 6.Health Behavior and Health Education, School of Public HealthUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA
  7. 7.Department of Learning Health SciencesUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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