Treatment-focused DNA testing for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients: some implications for clinical practice
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There is accumulating evidence that women with breast cancer due to a familial BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation benefit from specific surgical and chemotherapeutic treatment strategies. However, the rapid identification of such patients during the acute phase of treatment raises a number of issues. This study investigated Australian opinion leaders' views on the issues arising from such ‘treatment-focused’ genetic testing. Semi-structured interviews with 34 opinion leaders working in cancer genetics were undertaken. Interviewees acknowledged the introduction of treatment-focused DNA testing has the potential to positively transform the management of breast cancer patients, but were concerned that certain ethical and logistical issues have yet to be addressed. These include decision-making and consent, the familial nature of genetic information, and the management of genetics services within familial cancer clinics in the public hospital system in Australia. Service providers will need to have policies and strategies for managing the increased demand. It will also be necessary to include genetic counseling services within familial cancer clinics in the care pathway for newly diagnosed patients prior to any DNA testing to determine adjuvant treatment; such services may be more cost-effective than expecting surgeons and medical oncologists to fulfill this role.
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