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Genetic Testing for Hereditary Breast Cancer: The Decision to Decline

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Genetic testing is important for comprehensive cancer care. Commercial analysis of the BRCA1/2 genes has been available since 1996, and testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome is well established. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines identify individuals for whom BRCA1/2 analysis is appropriate and define management recommendations for mutation carriers. Despite recommendations, not all who meet NCCN criteria undergo genetic testing. We assess the frequency that individuals meeting NCCN criteria decline BRCA1/2 analysis, as well as factors that affect the decision-making process. A retrospective chart review was performed from September 2013 through August 2014 of individuals who received genetic counseling at the Levine Cancer Institute. A total of 1082 individuals identified through the retrospective chart review met NCCN criteria for BRCA1/2 analysis. Of these, 267 (24.7%) did not pursue genetic testing. Of the Nontested cohort, 59 (22.1%) were disinterested in testing and 108 (40.4%) were advised to gather additional genetic or medical information about their relatives before testing. The remaining 100 (37.5%) individuals were insured and desired to undergo genetic testing but were prohibited by the expense. Eighty five of these 100 patients were responsible for the total cost of the test, whereas the remaining 15 faced a prohibitive copay expense. Financial concerns are a major deterrent to the pursuit of BRCA1/2 analysis among those who meet NCNN criteria, especially in patients diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. These findings highlight the need to address financial concerns for genetic testing in this high-risk population.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

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