Whole genome sequencing in oncology: using scenario drafting to explore future developments

Michiel van de Ven, Martijn J H G Simons, Hendrik Koffijberg, Manuela A Joore, Maarten J IJzerman, Valesca P Retèl*, Wim H van Harten

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
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BACKGROUND: In oncology, Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) is not yet widely implemented due to uncertainties such as the required infrastructure and expertise, costs and reimbursements, and unknown pan-cancer clinical utility. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate possible future developments facilitating or impeding the use of WGS as a molecular diagnostic in oncology through scenario drafting.

METHODS: A four-step process was adopted for scenario drafting. First, the literature was searched for barriers and facilitators related to the implementation of WGS. Second, they were prioritized by international experts, and third, combined into coherent scenarios. Fourth, the scenarios were implemented in an online survey and their likelihood of taking place within 5 years was elicited from another group of experts. Based on the minimum, maximum, and most likely (mode) parameters, individual Program Evaluation and Review Technique (PERT) probability density functions were determined. Subsequently, individual opinions were aggregated by performing unweighted linear pooling, from which summary statistics were extracted and reported.

RESULTS: Sixty-two unique barriers and facilitators were extracted from 70 articles. Price, clinical utility, and turnaround time of WGS were ranked as the most important aspects. Nine scenarios were developed and scored on likelihood by 18 experts. The scenario about introducing WGS as a clinical diagnostic with a lower price, shorter turnaround time, and improved degree of actionability, scored the highest likelihood (median: 68.3%). Scenarios with low likelihoods and strong consensus were about better treatment responses to more actionable targets (26.1%), and the effect of centralizing WGS (24.1%).

CONCLUSIONS: Based on current expert opinions, the implementation of WGS as a clinical diagnostic in oncology is heavily dependent on the price, clinical utility (both in terms of identifying actionable targets as in adding sufficient value in subsequent treatment), and turnaround time. These aspects and the optimal way of service provision are the main drivers for the implementation of WGS and should be focused on in further research. More knowledge regarding these factors is needed to inform strategic decision making regarding the implementation of WGS, which warrants support from all relevant stakeholders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number488
JournalBMC Cancer
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financed by a grant from ZonMW (grant number 80-84600-98-1002). ZonMW was not involved in the design of the study; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; and in writing the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright: © 2021, The Author(s).


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