Referral and experience with genetic testing among women with early onset breast cancer

Karen L. Brown, Robin Hutchison, Randi E. Zinberg, Margaret M. McGovern

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


The purpose of this study was to determine whether physicians refer women with early onset breast cancer for genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2, and how women respond to being offered testing and use the results. A web-based survey was distributed to 1221 women with early onset breast cancer. The survey included 158 questions divided into the following sections: demographics, family history of cancer, medical history, treatment history, and experience with genetic testing. Of 551 women diagnosed since 1993 who responded to the survey (45.1%), less than half (45%, n = 246) had ever discussed genetic testing with their physician and/or been referred to see a genetic counselor. Women with a family history of cancer (53%) and Ashkenazi Jewish women (81%) were more likely to have been referred. Of those who had discussed testing, 60% had undergone or were interested in testing. Overall 92 women were tested and 19 (20.6%) of these tested positive for a deleterious BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Fourteen (74%) who tested positive subsequently underwent prophylactic surgery. Satisfaction with counseling and the decision to be tested was high. Among women who were not offered testing, the fact that the test had not been offered by their physician (89%), and fear of discrimination (83%) were the two most frequently cited factors for lack of interest in testing. A substantial number of women are not being referred to genetic counseling and/or testing after a diagnosis of early onset breast cancer. Among those who were tested, there was high interest in prophylactic surgery after confirmation of a BRCA1/2 mutation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-305
Number of pages5
JournalGenetic Testing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2005


Dive into the research topics of 'Referral and experience with genetic testing among women with early onset breast cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this