Attitudes toward and current status of disclosure of secondary findings from next-generation sequencing: a nation-wide survey of clinical genetics professionals in Japan

Abstract

The management of secondary findings (SFs), which are beyond the intended purpose of the analysis, from clinical comprehensive genomic analysis using next generation sequencing (NGS) presents challenges. Policy statements regarding their clinical management have been announced in Japan and other countries. In Japan, however, the current status of and attitudes of clinical genetics professionals toward reporting them are unclear. We conducted a questionnaire survey of clinical genetics professionals at two time points (2013 and 2019) to determine the enforcement of the SF management policy in cases of comprehensive genetic analysis of intractable diseases and clinical cancer genome profiling testing. According to the survey findings, 40% and 70% of the respondents stated in the 2013 and 2019 surveys, respectively, that they had an SF policy in the field of intractable diseases, indicating that SF policy awareness in Japan has changed significantly in recent years. Furthermore, a total of 80% of respondents stated that their facility had established a policy for clinical cancer genome profiling testing in the 2019 survey. In both surveys, the policies included the selection criteria for genes to be disclosed and the procedure to return SFs, followed by recommendations and proposals regarding SFs in Japan and other countries. To create a better list of the genes to be disclosed, further examination is needed considering the characteristics of each analysis.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank all those who have assisted in the questionnaire survey and received the guidance and support of clinical geneticists and certified genetic counselors. We would like to thank Editage (www.editage.com) for English language editing. This study was supported by Japan Agency for Medical Research and Development, AMED, under Grant Number 17kk0305006h0001.

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Correspondence to Takahiro Yamada.

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Tsuchiya, M., Yamada, T., Akaishi, R. et al. Attitudes toward and current status of disclosure of secondary findings from next-generation sequencing: a nation-wide survey of clinical genetics professionals in Japan. J Hum Genet (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-020-0802-2

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