Inappropriate referrals for BRCA1/2 testing drives costs and creates undue anxiety for women
LANSDALE, Pa., May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- A guide to BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing has been released by Hayes, Inc. This comprehensive resource is designed to equip physicians and other healthcare professionals who are not trained in genetics with independent, evidence-based information to help them understand the complexities of BRCA1/2 gene testing.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancers. Women who carry a change in one of the breast cancer susceptibility genes, BRCA1 or BRCA2, have an increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Changes in the BRCA1/2 genes can occur in any racial or ethnic group, although in the U.S. they are found most often in Jewish women of Ashkenazi (Eastern Europe) origin. Increasing numbers of women are seeking information concerning their risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, often with heightened anxiety that has been fueled by direct-to-consumer advertising and information in the social media.
"Knowledge of the genetic basis of a disease has the potential to revolutionize personal healthcare," says Dr. Diane Allingham-Hawkins, Director, Hayes Genetic Test Evaluation Program. "Unfortunately, however, there is a great deal of misuse of expensive genetic tests due to a lack of understanding of the true clinical utility of these tests. In reality, only 5% of cases of breast or ovarian cancer are caused by these hereditary genetic changes."
However, the combination of anxiety regarding cancer risk, direct-to-consumer advertising and publicity about the tests, and lack of physician knowledge in the field of genetics has led to inappropriate referrals for women seeing BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing.
"We understand that some of the reasons for these inappropriate referrals are the physician's concern about upsetting a patient by saying 'no' to her request, even though she doesn't meet the guidelines for testing," says Dr. Allingham-Hawkins. "However, test results will not provide useful information about cancer risk unless the woman meets these guidelines, and can lead to undue worry without providing any health benefit. In addition, the cost of these tests alone can be greater than $3500, with the recommended genetic counseling adding even more."
Written in a style that can be understood by both the clinician and non-clinician, the Hayes Guide scrutinizes nearly 300 scientific and clinical publications to provide unbiased information and recommendations regarding BRCA1/2 testing in different patient populations. Included is an in-depth analysis describing each of these tests, with special attention focused on the clinical validity, analytical validity, clinical utility, cost, major payer coverage policies, genetic counseling recommendations, and what the future holds for genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. Generally, access to Hayes genetic test evaluations requires a password-protected subscription to the Hayes Knowledge Center. However, recognizing the importance of this information, Hayes is releasing this special volume for a one-time fee. Click here for more information.
SOURCE Hayes, Inc.