AIM: This study explored the attitudes of patients with advanced cancer towards MTP and return of results, prior to undergoing genomic testing within a research program.
METHODS: Participants were recruited as part of the longitudinal PiGeOn (Psychosocial Issues in Genomics in Oncology) study involving patients with advanced/metastatic solid cancer who had exhausted therapeutic options and who were offered MTP in order to identify cognate therapies. Twenty patients, selected by purposive sampling, were interviewed around the time they gave consent to MTP. Interviews were audio recorded, transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Themes identified in the transcripts were cross-validated via qualitative responses to the PiGeOn study survey (n = 569; 63%).
RESULTS: All interviewed participants gave consent to MTP without reservation. Three themes were identified and further supported via the survey responses: (1) Obvious agreement to participate, primarily because of desire for new treatments and altruism. (2) The black box - while participant knowledge of genomics was generally poor, faith in their oncologists and the scientific process encouraged them to proceed with testing; and (3) Survival is the priority - receiving treatment to prolong life was the priority for all participants, and other issues such as identification of a germline variant were generally seen as ancillary.
CONCLUSION: Having advanced cancer seemed to abrogate any potential concerns about MTP. Participants valued the research for varied reasons, but this was secondary to their priority to survive. While no negative attitudes toward MTP emerged, limitations in understanding of genomics were evident.