Breast Cancer Patients at Risk for Mutations Not Getting Genetic Testing, Counseling

Breast Cancer Patients at Risk for Mutations Not Getting Genetic Testing, Counseling
Breast cancer patients at high risk for mutations linked to ovarian and other cancers are not getting tested as recommended — and only 60 percent of those receiving the test have a genetic counseling session that helps them understand the results, according to new research. In addition, Asian-Americans and older women were especially likely to be "undertested," said researchers. The study, “Genetic Testing and Counseling Among Patients With Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer,” appeared in JAMA. "We found that genetic counseling and testing are not well-matched to medical need," Allison Kurian, MD, the study's lead author and an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University's School of Medicine, said in a news release. "Women are very interested in genetic testing but many fail to receive it. This is particularly worrisome because it means that doctors are missing the opportunity to prevent cancers in mutation carriers and their family members." Genetic testing of women with breast cancer illustrates how increasingly widespread genomic sequencing can influence treatment decision-making. Testing of two breast cancer-associated genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, has been available for 20 years, but new technology and less restrictive patent laws have slashed the cost of genetic testing. Yet until now, experts knew little about recent patient experience with genetic testing and counseling. Kurian and colleagues conducted surveys among 2,529 women with newly diagnosed breast cancer two months after they had surgery. The
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