Family History Assessment Significantly Enhances Delivery of Precision Medicine in the Genomics Era

Journal Article

AbstractBackgroundFamily history has traditionally been an essential part of clinical care to assess health risks. However, declining sequencing costs have precipitated a shift towards genomics-first approaches in population screening programs, with less emphasis on family history assessment. We evaluated the utility of family history for genomic sequencing selection.MethodsWe analysed whole genome sequences of 1750 healthy research participants, with and without preselection based on standardised family history collection, screening 95 cancer genes.ResultsThe frequency of likely pathogenic/ pathogenic (LP/P) variants in 884 participants with no family history available (FH not available group) (2%) versus 866 participants with family history available (FH available group) (3.1%) was not significant (p=0.158). However, within the FH available group, amongst 73 participants with an increased family history cancer risk (increased FH risk), 1 in 7 participants carried a LP/P variant inferring a six-fold increase compared with 1 in 47 participants assessed at average family history cancer risk (average FH risk) and a seven-fold increase compared to the FH not available group. The enrichment was further pronounced (up to 18-fold) when assessing the 25 cancer genes in the ACMG 59-gene panel. Furthermore, 63 participants had an increased family history cancer risk in absence of an apparent LP/P variant.ConclusionOur findings show that systematic family history collection remains critical for health risk assessment, providing important actionable data and augmenting the yield from genomic data. Family history also highlights the potential impact of additional hereditary, environmental and behavioural influences not reflected by genomic sequencing.

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Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Bylstra, Y; Lim, WK; Kam, S; Tham, KW; Wu, RR; Teo, JX; Davila, S; Kuan, JL; Chan, SH; Bertin, N; Yang, C; Rozen, S; Teh, BT; Yeo, KK; Cook, SA; Orlando, LA; Jamuar, SS; Ginsburg, GS; Tan, P

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Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1101/2020.01.29.926139