Date of Award


Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Degree Name

MS Human Genetics


Human Genetics Graduate Program


In the emerging era of genomics-driven medicine, tumor genomic profiling in particular has begun to revolutionize the field of oncology. As the integration of such technologies evolves and affects the management and treatment of cancer, questions arise with regards to the changing roles of healthcare professionals involved in cancer care. One hundred and twenty-eight members of the National Society of Genetic Counselors (NSGC) responded to a survey to assess the current roles of genetic counselors in oncology and the perceived roles that genetic counselors will have in the clinical use of tumor genomic profiling. With regards to current roles in cancer care, the majority reported that they provide genetics cancer-related expertise to other medical professionals (85.0%, n=85). With respect to perceived roles in the clinical use of tumor genomic sequencing, most responders (80.0%, n=80) indicated that they feel there is a role for genetic counselors. The majority of responders identified 5 roles that genetic counselors would be equipped to play in regard to tumor genomic analysis. The largest number, 91 (97.9%) report identifying and discussing incidental germline findings uncovered by testing, followed by serving as a resources for physicians who may not be comfortable with genomic testing 76.3% (n=71), educating medical students, residents and fellows about tumor genomic sequencing 69.9% (n=65), educating medical professionals on issues around informed consent 67.7% (n=63), and post-test counseling of patients to help interpret tumor sequencing results 65.6% (n=61). The duty of pre-test counseling for patients to help explain tumor sequence testing and informed consent is reported as a significant role by smaller numbers of responders 44.1% (n=41). When prompted to choose the most significant, the majority (56.7%, n=51) report identifying and discussing 3 incidental germline findings as the primary role. Responses show that participants foresee multiple duties that genetic counselors are adept to handle in the context of tumor genomic analysis, with information involving germline findings specified as the most important and relevant to the training of genetic counselors.