HealthDay News — According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, many high-risk women do not get genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 oftentimes because they are not advised to by their doctors.

A total of 2529 women with breast cancer were questioned 2 months after surgery. The patients were asked if they had wanted genetic testing and, if so, whether they had received it. 

The women ranged in risk, with 31% having a high risk of carrying the BRCA mutations.

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Among women with the highest risk, 80.9% said they wanted testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. But, “only about half of them actually got the testing they should get,” study author Allison Kurian, MD, an associate professor of medicine and of health research and policy from Stanford University’s School of Medicine in California, told HealthDay

Of the high-risk women who were not tested, 56.1% said their doctors did not recommend it, the authors found. Asian-Americans and older women were particularly likely to not have been tested.

Furthermore, 39.6% of all high-risk women and 61.7% of high-risk women who were tested, said they received genetic counseling, Kurian’s team found. “I think it’s very concerning,” Kurian said of the findings. 

However, she noted that the survey was limited because it was based only on women’s responses and recollections. For instance, doctors might have mentioned genetic testing and women might have forgotten that.

Kurian disclosed financial ties to Myriad Genetics, Invitae, and Ambry Genetics.


Kurian AW, et al. “Genetic Testing and Counseling Among Patients With Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer.” JAMA. 2017. 317(5): 531-534. doi:10.1001/jama.2016.16918

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