Factors influencing cancer genetic somatic mutation test ordering by cancer physician

Anastassia Demeshko, David J. Pennisi, Sushil Narayan, Stacy W. Gray, Matthew A. Brown, Aideen M. McInerney-Leo*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    10 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Clinical whole exome sequencing was introduced in an Australian centre in 2017, as an alternative to Sanger sequencing. We aimed to identify predictors of cancer physicians’ somatic mutation test ordering behaviour. Methods: A validated instrument assessed somatic mutation test ordering, genomic confidence, perceived utility of tumour molecular profiling, and percent of patients eligible for targeted therapy. A cash incentive was included in 189/244 questionnaires which were mailed to all Queensland cancer specialists in November 2018. Results: 110 participated (response rate 45%); 54.7% oncologists, and the remainder were surgeons, haematologists and pulmonologists. Oncologists were more likely to respond (p = 0.008), and cash incentive improved the response rate (p < 0.001). 67/102 (65.7%) of physicians ordered ≥ 5 somatic mutation tests annually. Oncologists saw 86.75 unique patients monthly and ordered 2.33 somatic mutation tests (2.2%). An average of 51/110 (46.1%) reported having little/no genomic confidence. Logistic regression identified two significant predictors of somatic mutation test ordering: being an oncologist (OR 3.557, CI 1.338–9.456; p = 0.011) and having greater confidence in interpreting somatic results (OR 5.926, CI 2.230–15.74; p < 0.0001). Conclusions: Consistent with previous studies, the majority of cancer physicians ordered somatic mutation tests. However, the percentage of patients on whom tests were ordered was low. Almost half respondents reported low genomic confidence. Somatic mutation test ordering was higher amongst oncologists and those with increased confidence in interpreting somatic variants. It is unclear whether genomically confident individuals ordered more tests or whether ordering more tests increased genomic confidence. Educational interventions could improve confidence and enhance test ordering behaviour.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number431
    JournalJournal Of Translational Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


    • Attitudes
    • Cancer physicians
    • Confidence
    • Genomic
    • Ordering
    • Somatic


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