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Precision diagnostics is one of the two pillars of precision medicine. Sequencing efforts in the past decade have firmly established cancer as a primarily genetically driven disease. This concept is supported by therapeutic successes aimed at particular pathways that are perturbed by specific driver mutations in protein-coding domains and reflected in three recent FDA tissue agnostic cancer drug approvals. In addition, there is increasing evidence from studies that interrogate the entire genome by whole-genome sequencing that acquired global and complex genomic aberrations including those in non-coding regions of the genome might also reflect clinical outcome. After addressing technical, logistical, financial and ethical challenges, national initiatives now aim to introduce clinical whole-genome sequencing into real-world diagnostics as a rational and potentially cost-effective tool for response prediction in cancer and to identify patients who would benefit most from 'expensive' targeted therapies and recruitment into clinical trials. However, so far, this has not been accompanied by a systematic and prospective evaluation of the clinical utility of whole-genome sequencing within clinical trials of uniformly treated patients of defined clinical outcome. This approach would also greatly facilitate novel predictive biomarker discovery and validation, ultimately reducing size and duration of clinical trials and cost of drug development. This manuscript is the third in a series of three to review and critically appraise the potential and challenges of clinical whole-genome sequencing in solid tumors and hematological malignancies.

Original publication




Journal article


Semin Cancer Biol

Publication Date



clinical utility, genomics, precision cancer medicine, risk stratification, whole-genome sequencing