Surgeons have substantial impact on genetic testing in breast cancer patients who need it
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Credit: Rogel Cancer Center

ANN ARBOR, Michigan — For many women diagnosed with breast cancer, genetic testing can offer important information that might guide treatment choices. But studies have shown that only about half of women who could benefit receive genetic testing.

A new study finds that surgeons are a key influence.

“The surge of genetic testing in cancer care is a major challenge for surgeons,” says Steven J. Katz, M.D., MPH, professor of general medicine and of health management and policy at the University of Michigan. “There is a lack of consensus around guidelines and approach to testing, and legitimate uncertainty about its value in guiding treatment, especially with newer genes whose cancer risks are not well defined.”

Katz is the lead author of a new paper in JAMA Surgery that looks at the impact of surgeon attitudes on genetic testing rates. Researchers led by the U-M Rogel Cancer Center surveyed 3,910 women diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. These surveys were linked to 370 surgeons who had treated them.

Overall, 27 percent of patients received genetic testing, including 52 percent of those who had higher risk of a genetic

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