Return of comprehensive tumour genomic profiling results to advanced cancer patients: a qualitative study



The introduction of comprehensive tumour genomic profiling (CGP) into clinical oncology allows the identification of molecular therapeutic targets. However, the potential complexity of genomic results and their implications may cause confusion and distress for patients undergoing CGP. We investigated the experience of advanced cancer patients receiving CGP results in a research setting.


Semi-structured interviews with 37 advanced cancer patients were conducted within two weeks of patients receiving CGP results. Interviewees were purposively sampled based on CGP result, cancer type, age and gender to ensure diversity. Themes were derived from interview transcripts using a framework analysis approach.


We identified six themes: (1) hoping against the odds; (2) managing expectations; (3) understanding is cursory; (4) communication of results is cursory; (5) genomics and incurable cancer; and (6) decisions about treatment.


Despite enthusiasm regarding CGP about the hope it provides for new treatments, participants experienced challenges in understanding results, and acceptance of identified treatments was not automatic. Support is needed for patients undergoing CGP to understand the implications of testing and cope with non-actionable results.


Comprehensive tumour genomic profiling, Cancer, Return of results, Patient perspectives, Psychological responses

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