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Special populations: African American and Latina Women
Genetic testing is now more available and affordable than ever before. If you are a young breast cancer survivor, knowing if you have a mutation associated with increased cancer risk can affect your treatment options. This study highlights patient's experiences with genetic testing and shows the unmet needs of some populations.
This study reveals more information about breast cancer patients’ experiences with genetic testing:
Talk to your health care provider, not only to inquire about and express a desire to have genetic testing, but also about any concerns or worries you have about genetic testing.
Is genetic testing right for me?
What are the implications of genetic testing?
What does it mean for my family and I if I have a BRCA mutation?
Breast Cancer News
Because BRCA1/2 gene mutations increase the risk for breast cancer and for other cancers, it is important for you and your physicians to know if you carry a BRCA1/2 mutation. Genetic testing is now more available and affordable. Because more people are aware of and/or have genetic testing, researchers are now studying the patient genetic testing experience. This topic has been somewhat studied, but research including cancer patients has been small, with low participation rates and few minority patients.
Which patients desire and/or receive genetic testing? Do patients have the discussions they need with their health care provider about genetic testing? Do minorities have a different experience?
This study brings to light more information about breast cancer patients’ experiences with genetic testing.
1,500 women from Los Angeles and Detroit—17% were black and 39% were Latina—who were diagnosed with non-metastatic breast cancer
The study had limitations. Because it included women from only two metropolitan areas (Los Angeles and Detroit), it did not reflect broad geographic results. The study also relied on patient self-reporting, which always presents the risk of misinformation.
This study identified groups that are more likely to receive genetic testing, including patients with a family history of cancer. However, a small percentage of people with BRCA1/2 mutations do not have a family history of cancer. If you are diagnosed with breast cancer before age 40, it is worthwhile to talk about genetic testing with a health care provider who is knowledgeable with genetics so that you can understand your options, clear up any misconceptions and alleviate your worries about testing. Additionally, this study demonstrates that health care providers are not meeting the needs of minority patients who are interested in genetic testing. Previous research has shown that black women, even those with a family history of cancer, were less likely to have genetic testing than white women with a similar history, so again, all questions should be addressed with a health care provider.
Study authors also noted that not all patients who want genetic testing will be likely to have a BRCA1/2 mutation. But it is important that the physician clears up any worries that the patient might have in order to alleviate the patients’ concerns.
Jagsi R, Griffith KA, Kurian AW, et al. “Concerns About Cancer Risk and Experiences With Genetic Testing in a Diverse Population of Patients With Breast Cancer.” Journal of Clinical Oncology, published ahead of print April 6, 2015.