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Not as Much as Expected

Fewer breast and ovarian cancer patients are getting genetic testing than would be expected under current guidelines, MedPage Today reports.

The University of Chicago's Stephen Katz and his colleagues examined genetic testing rates and results among more than 83,000 individuals with either breast or ovarian cancer from SEER registries in California and Georgia. As they report in the Journal of Clinical Oncology this week, they found that about a quarter of women with breast cancer and about a third of those with ovarian cancer had undergone genetic testing.

That's, they note, lower than would be expected if current testing guidelines patients with high-grade, serous ovarian cancer were followed. They also uncovered differences between groups that were and were not tested — by race among breast and ovarian cancer patients and by socioeconomic status among ovarian cancer patients. University of Florida's Merry Jennifer Markham tells MedPage Today that testing can be expensive and, depending on the results, can lead to additional costs, which could deter some patients from pursuing testing.

Among those who did undergo genetic testing, the most commonly identified pathogenic variants breast and ovarian cancer patients were in BRCA1, BRCA2, and CHEK 2, the researchers report in their paper.