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    Is genetic testing for cancer survivors underutilized?

    More than 80% of women with a history of either breast or ovarian cancer may not be receiving necessary genetic testing, according to a new study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

    For the analysis, investigators used pooled cross-sectional data from 3 Cancer Control Modules on the National Health Interview Survey from 2005, 2010, and 2015. Women with a history of breast and/or ovarian cancer who met select 2017 National Comprehensive Cancer Network eligibility criteria for age of diagnosis and family history were eligible.

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    Of the 47,218 women who were studied, 2.7% had a history of breast cancer and 0.4% had a history of ovarian cancer. Among women with a history of breast cancer, 35.6% met one eligibility criterion. Of that subset, 29.0% discussed genetic testing; 20.2% were advised to undergo genetic testing; and 15.3% underwent genetic testing. Among the women with a history of ovarian cancer, 15.1% discussed genetic testing; 13.1% were advised to have genetic testing; and 10.5% underwent genetic testing. Looking at data on women who met only 4 breast cancer eligibility criteria and all of the patients who had a history of ovarian cancer, the investigators estimated that 1.2 to 1.3 million women failed to receive genetic testing.

    The authors concluded that fewer than 1 in 5 women with a history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer who met select criteria had undergone genetic testing and most had never even discussed genetic testing with a health care provider. They said that national efforts to address these discrepancies are warranted.

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    Miranda Hester
    Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS
    Judith M. Orvos, ELS, is a a BELS-certified medical writer and editor and an editorial consultant for Contemporary OB/GYN.

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    • UBM User
      Barriers to Entry: CIGNA makes me, a board certified Ob/Gyn who personally is a BRCA carrier & utilizes NCCN guidelines, send to a GC (genetics counselor) to authorize BRCA-panel testing. Patients don't take the extra step to go or call to someone they don't know and thus CIGNA has effectively saved money which is their true mission statement! #Shameful!

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