Somatic tumor testing implications for Lynch syndrome germline genetic testing


      Clinicians involved in cancer treatment often utilize somatic tumor sequencing to help tailor chemotherapy and immunotherapy. However, somatic tumor sequencing can also identify patients at risk for germline pathogenic variants causing cancer predisposition syndromes like Lynch syndrome. The extent to which clinicians realize this implication of tumor sequencing is currently unclear. We performed a retrospective chart review of Stanford Health Care patients who had somatic variant(s) in the Lynch syndrome genes or microsatellite instability identified on tumor sequencing to determine the proportion of patients who were referred to genetics. Among 6,556 patients who had tumor testing, 90 (1.37%) had findings compatible with Lynch syndrome. Of the 62 patients who had not already seen genetics, 47/62 (75.8%) were not referred to genetics for germline testing. Additionally, 26/47 (55.3%) of these individuals had a tumor type within the Lynch syndrome spectrum. Of the 10 patients who did elect germline testing after tumor sequencing, 3/10 were positive for Lynch syndrome. Our study highlights the need for specific guidelines to inform clinician referral practices on germline follow-up of somatic tumor testing and demonstrates the importance of continued research on the relationship between somatic tumor variants and germline variants to inform such guidelines.


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