Recommendations for Returning Genomic Incidental Findings? We Need to Talk!

Genet Med. 2013 Nov;15(11):854-9. doi: 10.1038/gim.2013.113. Epub 2013 Aug 1.

Abstract

The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics recently issued recommendations for reporting incidental findings from clinical whole-genome sequencing and whole-exome sequencing. The recommendations call for evaluating a specific set of genes as part of all whole-genome sequencing/whole-exome sequencing and reporting all pathogenic variants irrespective of patient age. The genes are associated with highly penetrant disorders for which treatment or prevention is available. The effort to generate a list of genes with actionable findings is commendable, but the recommendations raise several concerns. They constitute a call for opportunistic screening, through intentional effort to identify pathogenic variants in specified genes unrelated to the clinical concern that prompted testing. Yet for most of the genes, we lack evidence about the predictive value of testing, genotype penetrance, spectrum of phenotypes, and efficacy of interventions in unselected populations. Furthermore, the recommendations do not allow patients to decline the additional findings, a position inconsistent with established norms. Finally, the recommendation to return adult-onset disease findings when children are tested is inconsistent with current professional consensus, including other policy statements of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics. Instead of premature practice recommendations, we call for robust dialogue among stakeholders to define a pathway to normatively sound, evidence-based guidelines.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Exome
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Genetic Testing*
  • Genetics, Medical
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genomics*
  • Humans
  • Incidental Findings*
  • Patient Preference
  • Patient Rights
  • Penetrance
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA*