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07-08-2017 | Ovarian cancer | Article

Cancer Genetic Counseling and Testing: Perspectives of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Patients and Gynecologic Oncology Healthcare Providers

Journal of Genetic Counseling

Authors: Margaret I. Liang, Deanna H. Wong, Christine S. Walsh, Robin Farias-Eisner, Joshua G. Cohen

Publisher: Springer US


Multi-gene panel testing has expanded the genetic information available to cancer patients. The objective was to assess provider behaviors and attitudes and patient knowledge and attitudes towards genetic counseling and testing. An online survey was distributed to Society of Gynecologic Oncology members and a written questionnaire was administered to patients diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer at a tertiary care referral center. Most of the 233 (18% response rate) provider respondents were gynecologic oncologists. Access to a genetic counselor was reported by 87% of providers and 55% deferred all testing to genetic counselors. Of 53 ovarian cancer patient respondents, two-thirds had previously seen a genetic counselor or undergone testing. Patients’ attitudes about genetic counseling and/or testing were favorable with respect to themselves (70–81%) and their family members (94%). Less than 25% of patients indicated worrying about health care discrimination, lack of privacy, or high cost. Seventy-seven percent of patients demonstrated a desire to obtain genetic information even if the results were not currently actionable, and 20% of providers stated they test for only those genes with guideline-supported actionable results. Provider practice differences were identified in screening and prevention strategies for patients with deleterious non-BRCA mutations and variants of uncertain significance. The variation in clinical interpretation of results associated with poorly defined cancer risks signals a need for more comprehensive training and guidelines to ensure access to evidence-based care.

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