Recent research suggests that precision health care will necessarily require an interdisciplinary approach, where representatives from various fields of thought must group together to draw genetically relevant conclusions for particular patients.1

While comparing genomic analyses of germline and somatic mutations among cancer patients is a common practice, patients have, in recent times, undergone tumor-only sequencing more often. As the former gives clinicians a clearer result from which to personalize testing and, consequently, treatment, the latter can make unclear which mutations are unique to the patient, and which are unique to the tumor.

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“Tumor-only testing does not determine whether a variant is germline,” Kristen Fishler, MS, CGC, a genetic counselor at University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, and lead author on the research paper, told Cancer Therapy Advisor in an email. “Paired tumor testing is certainly more comprehensive in that it ascertains the tumor and the germline simultaneously.”

One approach for improving recommendations based on tumor-only sequencing, however, is use of a multidisciplinary genomic tumor board (MGTB), in which researchers from a variety of backgrounds weigh in on the best way to interpret test results. This, in turn, lessens the decision-making burden on individual clinicians, who may not themselves have the necessary expertise for making good recommendations.