Posted on January 29, 2020

Racial and Ethnic Differences in BRCA1/2 and Multigene Panel Testing Among Young Breast Cancer Patients

T. Jones, et al., Journal of Cancer Education, December 4, 2019


Genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) is recommended for breast cancer patients diagnosed at age ≤ 50 years. Our objective was to examine racial/ethnic differences in genetic testing frequency and results among diverse breast cancer patients. A retrospective cohort study among women diagnosed with breast cancer at age ≤ 50 years from January 2007 to December 2017 at Columbia University in New York, NY. Among 1503 diverse young breast cancer patients, nearly half (46.2%) completed HBOC genetic testing. Genetic testing completion was associated with younger age, family history of breast cancer, and earlier stage, but not race/ethnicity or health insurance status. Blacks had the highest frequency of pathogenic/likely pathogenic (P/LP) variants (18.6%), and Hispanics and Asians had the most variants of uncertain significance (VUS), 19.0% and 21.9%, respectively. The percentage of women undergoing genetic testing increased over time from 15.3% in 2007 to a peak of 72.8% in 2015. Over the same time period, there was a significant increase in P/LP and VUS results. Due to uncertainty about the clinical implications of P/LP variants in moderate penetrance genes and VUSs, our findings underscore the need for targeted genetic counseling education, particularly among young minority breast cancer patients.