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Germline variants in patients with rare cancers and their implications for precision cancer medicine: experiences from the Multicenter MASTER Trial by the German Cancer Consortium (HIPO_021)

The era of precision oncology entails an increasing amount of molecular data from tumor sequencing in research and diagnostics. In this setting, germline variant analysis may add clinical benefits for patients and family members. In this study, we evaluated germline variants from genome/exome matched tumor-blood sequencing in 1.485 advanced cancer patients within a prospective observational study carried out by the German Cancer Consortium. Included patients had cancers of rare entities (79.2%) or were under the age of 51 at first diagnosis (76.6%). Ten percent of the patients harbored pathogenic germline variants in 35 tumor predisposition genes with autosomal-dominant inheritance such as BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53, RB1, CHEK2, ATM, PALB2, SDHB etc., while 4.6% of the patients were carriers of pathogenic germline variants in 18 genes with autosomal-recessive inheritance of tumor predisposition. Based on pathogenic germline variants, 14% of the patients received genetic counselling recommendations in the molecular tumor board report. Forty five percent of pathogenic germline variants supported a molecular treatment recommendation, which was implemented for 28 patients. Furthermore, we compared our approach and results to previous studies, broadening the insight into pan cancer germline findings but also revealing differences between studies on various levels, such as cohort demographics, tumor entities, gene nominations, variant detection and variant interpretation. Our data support the importance of germline variant interpretation in precision oncology studies for patients and their families, if applicable. However, guidelines for evaluation and reporting of germline variants in the context of genetic tumor profiling need to be established and further research on the relevance of germline mutations as biomarkers for treatment recommendations is needed.

Click on a Dataset ID in the table below to learn more, and to find out who to contact about access to these data

Dataset ID Description Technology Samples
EGAD00001010046 HiSeq X Ten Illumina HiSeq 2500 Illumina HiSeq 4000 1
EGAD00001010047 HiSeq X Ten Illumina HiSeq 2500 Illumina HiSeq 4000 Illumina NovaSeq 6000 353