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Breast CA Patients Want, but May Not Get, Genetic Risk Discussion

Almost half don’t have conversation with doctor about potential for future problems

TUESDAY, April 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) — Although many women with breast cancer are concerned about their genetic risk for other cancers — as well as their relatives’ risk for breast cancer — almost half of these patients don’t get information about genetic testing, according to a study published online April 6 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers surveyed 1,536 breast cancer patients in Detroit and Los Angeles and found that 35 percent had a strong interest in genetic testing. One major reason for their interest was concern that other members of their family might have a genetic risk for breast cancer. That worry was highest (83 percent) among Hispanic breast cancer patients who spoke only Spanish. Many of those interested in genetic testing were also concerned about their own future risk of other types of cancer.

The researchers also found that 43 percent of women with a strong interest in genetic testing didn’t discuss the topic with a medical professional. This was more common among women in racial/ethnic minorities than among white women.

“Our findings suggest a marked unmet need for discussion about genetic risk,” Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, said in a university news release. “With recent judicial opinions, direct-to-consumer marketing, and celebrity reports (for example, Angelina Jolie), the public has become much more aware that genetic testing is available. But genetic risk is complex. Even patients unlikely to have elevated genetic risk may still benefit from a discussion,” Jagsi said.

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