A recent article in JAMA Oncology, published this month, discusses the use of gene sequencing to identify drug targets in tumours. Gene sequencing has led to incidental findings of germline mutations in patients; changes in the genes of the germ cells that form eggs and sperm and are eventually passed on to the next generation. Many of these patients did not originally meet the clinical criteria for germline genetic testing.
The authors of the article suggest that, because most patients would not ordinarily have germline genetic testing, many of these mutations go undetected. Germline mutations could potentially impact the choice of cancer treatment, give an indication of the risk of developing cancer, and inform cancer prevention strategies for future family members.