The experiences and needs of Australian medical oncologists in integrating comprehensive genomic profiling into clinical care: a nation-wide survey

Oncotarget. 2021 Oct 12;12(21):2169-2176. doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.28076.


Purpose: Comprehensive genomic profiling (CGP) is increasingly used to guide cancer therapy. This study aimed to characterise oncologists' experiences and needs when utilising genomic results.

Materials and methods: An electronic survey distributed nation-wide to practising medical oncologists in Australia explored oncologists' experiences with consenting, interpreting and communicating CGP results to patients.

Results: The survey was completed by 108 of 333 oncologists (32%) and most respondents (n = 97, 90%) had referred patients for CGP. Using a 100-point visual analogue scale score [VAS], where higher values indicate greater confidence, most oncologists were confident consenting patients for referral [median 75 (Interquartile range, IQR: 53-85), discussing CGP results (median VAS: 70, IQR: 51-80), but significantly less confident discussing secondary germline findings (median VAS: 56, IQR 30-70, p < 0.001). Confidence with pursuing therapies based on CGP results increased with clinical experience (mean VAS increases by 4.8 per 5 years of experience, p < 0.001). Most oncologists (N = 68, 63%) reported wanting assistance with interpretation of CGP and patient-centric resources to aid communication with patients.

Conclusions: Oncologists are integrating genomics into clinical care, but only display moderate confidence in communication and changing management accordingly. The development of patient- and clinician- targeted resources may assist with routine utilisation of CGP results in cancer care.

Keywords: clinicians' experiences with utilising genomic findings in a pan-cancer setting to inform treatment selection; communication; comprehensive genomic profiling; precision medicine; targeted treatment selection using genomics.