Breast Cancer Patient, Surgeon Survey Underscores Need for Education on Interpreting Results

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – A survey of breast cancer patients and their surgeons has found that many patients undergo genetic testing without seeing a genetic counselor and may not understand complex results.

Researchers led by the University of Michigan’s Steven Katz found that about half of breast cancer patients with an average risk of disease, but who are found to harbor a variant of uncertain significance, undergo bilateral mastectomies. To them, this indicated that some clinicians and patients might not understand genetic testing results.

As they reported in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, Katz and his colleagues surveyed women diagnosed with breast cancer in 2014 and 2015 about their genetic testing experiences. They found that about half the women discussed their results with a genetic counselor. They also surveyed those patients’ surgeons regarding how genetic testing results influence their management of patients, and found that many surgeons said they treated women with variants of unknown significance the same as they did patients with known cancer-causing mutations.

“Our findings suggest a limited understanding among physicians and patients of the meaning of genetic testing results,” first author Allison Kurian from Stanford University Medical Center said in a statement. “Clinical practice guidelines state

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