Clinical implementation of an oncology-specific family health history risk assessment tool.



The presence of hereditary cancer syndromes in cancer patients can have an impact on current clinical care and post-treatment prevention and surveillance measures. Several barriers inhibit identification of hereditary cancer syndromes in routine practice. This paper describes the impact of using a patient-facing family health history risk assessment platform on the identification and referral of breast cancer patients to genetic counselling services.


This was a hybrid implementation-effectiveness study completed in breast cancer clinics. English-literate patients not previously referred for genetic counselling and/or gone through genetic testing were offered enrollment. Consented participants were provided educational materials on family health history collection, entered their family health history into the platform and completed a satisfaction survey. Upon completion, participants and their clinicians were given personalized risk reports. Chart abstraction was done to identify actions taken by patients, providers and genetic counsellors.


Of 195 patients approached, 102 consented and completed the study (mean age 55.7, 100 % women). Sixty-six (65 %) met guideline criteria for genetic counseling of which 24 (36 %) were referred for genetic counseling. Of those referred, 13 (54 %) participants attended and eight (33 %) completed genetic testing. On multivariate logistic regression, referral was not associated with age, cancer stage, or race but was associated with clinical provider (p = 0.041). Most providers (71 %) had higher referral rates during the study compared to prior. The majority of participants found the experience useful (84 %), were more aware of their health risks (83 %), and were likely to recommend using a patient-facing platform to others (69 %).


65 % of patients attending breast cancer clinics in this study are at-risk for hereditary conditions based on current guidelines. Using a patient-facing risk assessment platform enhances the ability to identify these patients systematically and with widespread acceptability and recognized value by patients. As only a third of at-risk participants received referrals for genetic counseling, further understanding barriers to referral is needed to optimize hereditary risk assessment in oncology practices.

Trial registration

NIH Clinical Trials registry, NCT04639934 . Registered Nov 23, 2020 -- Retrospectively registered.





Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Fung, Si Ming, R Ryanne Wu, Rachel A Myers, Jasper Goh, Geoffrey S Ginsburg, David Matchar, Lori A Orlando, Joanne Ngeow, et al. (2021). Clinical implementation of an oncology-specific family health history risk assessment tool. Hereditary cancer in clinical practice, 19(1). p. 20. 10.1186/s13053-021-00177-y Retrieved from

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Rebekah Ryanne Wu

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine

Dr. Wu is an internal medicine physician and health services researcher. Her main research interest is studying the implementation of precision medicine applications to improve clinical care. She is involved in projects currently looking at a patient-facing family history risk assessment tool, MeTree, which provides individualized risk stratification and clinical decision support recommendations to clinicians and patients. In addition she is also involved in a large scale sequencing program in Singapore looking at the intersection of family health history and genomics to better understand how these data elements can complement one another and create more precise risk predictions.  She is a member of NHGRI's IGNITE network as a co-investigator on a multi-site pragmatic clinical trial of the impact of pharmacogenetic testing on management of depression and acute, and chronic pain.  She is the implementation science advisor for the VA's Pharmacogenomic Testing for Veterans (PHASER) program, which is working to complete preemptive PGx testing on up to 250,000 Veterans by 2024.

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