Evaluating the integration of genomics into cancer screening programmes: challenges and opportunities
Briggs S., Slade I.
<br/><strong>Purpose of Review: </strong>As the costs of genomic testing have fallen, and our understanding of genetic susceptibility to cancers has grown, there has been increasing interest in incorporating testing for cancer susceptibility genes, and polygenic risk estimates, into population cancer screening. A growing body of evidence suggests that this would be both clinically and cost-effective. In this article, we aim to explore the frameworks used to evaluate screening programmes, evaluate whether population screening for cancer susceptibility can be assessed using these standards, and consider additional issues and outcomes of importance in this context.<br/><strong>Recent Findings: </strong>There are tensions between traditional approaches of genetic testing (utilising tests with high sensitivity and specificity) and the principles of population screening (in which the screening test typically has low specificity), as well as the frameworks used to evaluate the two. Despite the existence of many screening guidelines, including consensus papers, these often do not align fully with broader considerations of genetic test evaluation. Population screening for genetic risk in cancer shifts the focus from diagnostics to prognostication and has wider implications for personal and familial health than existing screening programmes. In addition, understanding of the prevalence and penetrance of cancer susceptibility genes, required by many screening guidelines, may only be obtainable through population-level testing; prospective multi-disciplinary research alongside implementation will be essential.<br/><strong>Summary: </strong>Appropriate evaluation of genetic screening for cancer risk will require modification of existing screening frameworks to incorporate additional complexity of outcomes and population values. As evidence supporting population screening for cancer susceptibility mounts, development of an appropriate evaluative framework, and expansion of public dialogue will be key to informing policy.