Leveraging genetic reports and electronic health records for the prediction of primary cancers: Algorithm development and validation study

Nansu Zong, Victoria Ngo, Daniel J. Stone, Andrew Wen, Yiqing Zhao, Yue Yu, Sijia Liu, Ming Huang, Chen Wang, Guoqian Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Background: Precision oncology has the potential to leverage clinical and genomic data in advancing disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. A key research area focuses on the early detection of primary cancers and potential prediction of cancers of unknown primary in order to facilitate optimal treatment decisions. Objective: This study presents a methodology to harmonize phenotypic and genetic data features to classify primary cancer types and predict cancers of unknown primaries. Methods: We extracted genetic data elements from oncology genetic reports of 1011 patients with cancer and their corresponding phenotypical data from Mayo Clinic’s electronic health records. We modeled both genetic and electronic health record data with HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources. The semantic web Resource Description Framework was employed to generate the network-based data representation (ie, patient-phenotypic-genetic network). Based on the Resource Description Framework data graph, Node2vec graph-embedding algorithm was applied to generate features. Multiple machine learning and deep learning backbone models were compared for cancer prediction performance. Results: With 6 machine learning tasks designed in the experiment, we demonstrated the proposed method achieved favorable results in classifying primary cancer types (area under the receiver operating characteristic curve [AUROC] 96.56% for all 9 cancer predictions on average based on the cross-validation) and predicting unknown primaries (AUROC 80.77% for all 8 cancer predictions on average for real-patient validation). To demonstrate the interpretability, 17 phenotypic and genetic features that contributed the most to the prediction of each cancer were identified and validated based on a literature review. Conclusions: Accurate prediction of cancer types can be achieved with existing electronic health record data with satisfactory precision. The integration of genetic reports improves prediction, illustrating the translational values of incorporating genetic tests early at the diagnosis stage for patients with cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere23586
JournalJMIR Medical Informatics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Electronic health records
  • FHIR
  • Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources
  • Genetic reports
  • Predicting primary cancers
  • RDF
  • Resource Description Framework

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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