Genetic Testing Underused in Breast Cancer Patients: Study

From - March 13, 2018

Genetic Testing Underused in Breast Cancer Patients: Study

TUESDAY, March 13, 2018 -- Nearly half of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients who should have genetic testing do not receive it, a new study finds.

Genetic testing can play an important part in deciding the best course of treatment, the University of Michigan researchers noted.

The study included just over 1,700 women with early stage breast cancer who could benefit from genetic testing.

Not only did many receive no genetic testing, one-quarter of patients were not counseled about their potential risk, the researchers found. In addition, less than two-thirds of those who had genetic testing met with a counselor before surgery, when test results could have the greatest impact on treatment.

About one-third of breast cancer patients who have a family history of the disease or are diagnosed at a young age have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer. For these patients, genetic testing can play an important role in determining treatment, the study authors explained.

For example, a patient might choose to have both breasts removed if genetic testing indicates she is at high risk of a second breast cancer.

"Integrating genetic counseling into treatment decision-making is challenging. Oncologists appropriately focus on treatments for cancer that's been diagnosed, and patients often desire to make decisions quickly," study author Dr. Steven Katz said in a university news release.

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