Purpose: The American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics (ACMG) recommended that clinical laboratories performing next-generation sequencing analyze and return pathogenic variants for 56 specific genes it considered medically actionable. Our objective was to evaluate the clinical and economic impact of returning these results.
Methods: We developed a decision-analytic policy model to project the quality-adjusted life-years and lifetime costs associated with returning ACMG-recommended incidental findings in three hypothetical cohorts of 10,000 patients.
Results: Returning incidental findings to cardiomyopathy patients, colorectal cancer patients, or healthy individuals would increase costs by $896,000, $2.9 million, and $3.9 million, respectively, and would increase quality-adjusted life-years by 20, 25.4, and 67 years, respectively, for incremental cost-effectiveness ratios of $44,800, $115,020, and $58,600, respectively. In probabilistic analyses, returning incidental findings cost less than $100,000/quality-adjusted life-year gained in 85, 28, and 91%, respectively, of simulations. Assuming next-generation sequencing costs $500, the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio for primary screening of healthy individuals was $133,400 (<$100,000/quality-adjusted life-year gained in 10% of simulations). Results were sensitive to the cohort age and assumptions about gene penetrance.
Conclusion: Returning incidental findings is likely cost-effective for certain patient populations. Screening of generally healthy individuals is likely not cost-effective based on current data, unless next-generation sequencing costs less than $500.