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Peer Coaching Study Points to Potential Need for Germline Genetic Testing Support

In JAMA Network Open, a Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center-led team presents findings from a quality improvement study focused on peer oncology programs for facilitating germline genetic testing in rural or underserved communities. For the pilot program, the investigators first tallied genetic test orders by medical oncologists at Olympic Medical Cancer Center, a regional community-based cancer center on Washington's Olympic peninsula. From there, they looked at whether peer coaching and support from cancer genetics experts at Fred Hutch affected the number of genetic tests that medical oncologists ordered for the 634 cancer patients treated at the community network hospital over the course of the study. Though the authors saw a 23 percent rise in germline genetic test orders during the peer support portion of the study, with the greatest testing uptake for pancreatic cancer patients, the change in germline testing did not reach statistical significance. Based on these and other results, "[f]urther support is needed to deliver genetic testing at diagnosis of cancer every time patients meet criteria," they write, noting that "genetic counseling support would enable community oncologists to order genetic testing every time criteria are met."