Analyzing the clinical actionability of germline pharmacogenomic findings in oncology

Cancer. 2018 Jul 15;124(14):3052-3065. doi: 10.1002/cncr.31382. Epub 2018 May 9.


Background: Germline and tumor pharmacogenomics impact drug responses, but germline markers less commonly guide oncology prescribing. The authors hypothesized that a critical number of clinically actionable germline pharmacogenomic associations exist, representing clinical implementation opportunities.

Methods: In total, 125 oncology drugs were analyzed for positive germline pharmacogenomic associations in journals with impact factors ≥5. Studies were assessed for design and genotyping quality, clinically relevant outcomes, statistical rigor, and evidence of drug-gene effects. Associations from studies of high methodologic quality were deemed potentially clinically actionable, and translational summaries were written as point-of-care clinical decision support (CDS) tools and formally evaluated using the Appraisal of Guidelines for Research and Evaluation (AGREE) II instrument.

Results: The authors identified germline pharmacogenomic results for 56 of 125 oncology drugs (45%) across 173 publications. Actionable associations were detected for 12 drugs, including 6 that had germline pharmacogenomic information within US Food and Drug Administration labels or published guidelines (capecitabine/fluorouracil/dihydropyrimidine dehydrogenase [DPYD], irinotecan/uridine diphosphate glucuronosyltransferase family 1 member A1 [UGT1A1], mercaptopurine/thioguanine/thiopurine S-methyltransferase [TPMT], tamoxifen/cytochrome P450 [CYP] family 2 subfamily D member 6 [CYP2D6]), and 6 others were novel (asparaginase/nuclear factor of activated T-cells 2 [NFATC2]/human leukocyte antigen D-related β1 [HLA-DRB1], cisplatin/acylphosphatase 2 [ACYP2], doxorubicin/adenosine triphosphate-binding cassette subfamily C member 2/Rac family small guanosine triphosphatase 2/neutrophil cytosolic factor 4 [ABCC2/RAC2/NCF4], lapatinib/human leukocyte antigen DQ α1 [HLA-DQA1], sunitinib/cytochrome P450 family 3 subfamily A member 5 [CYP3A5], vincristine/centrosomal protein 72 [CEP72]). By using AGREE II, the developed CDS summaries had high mean ± standard deviation scores (maximum score, 100) for scope and purpose (92.7 ± 5.1) and rigour of development (87.6 ± 7.4) and moderate yet robust scores for clarity of presentation (58.6 ± 25.1) and applicability (55.9 ± 24.6). The overall mean guideline quality score was 5.2 ± 1.0 (maximum score, 7). Germline pharmacogenomic CDS summaries for these 12 drugs were recommended for implementation.

Conclusions: Several oncology drugs have actionable germline pharmacogenomic information, justifying their delivery through institutional pharmacogenomic implementations to determine clinical utility. Cancer 2018;124:3052-65. © 2018 American Cancer Society.

Keywords: clinical decision support; germline mutation; pharmacogenetics; pharmacogenomic variants; precision medicine.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Clinical Decision-Making / methods
  • Drug Prescriptions / statistics & numerical data
  • Genetic Testing / standards
  • Genetic Testing / statistics & numerical data
  • Genotyping Techniques / standards
  • Genotyping Techniques / statistics & numerical data
  • Germ-Line Mutation / genetics
  • Humans
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein 2
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Patient Selection
  • Pharmacogenetics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Practice Guidelines as Topic
  • Precision Medicine / standards*
  • Precision Medicine / statistics & numerical data
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome


  • ABCC2 protein, human
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Multidrug Resistance-Associated Protein 2