Referrals of women with a family history of breast cancer from primary care to cancer genetics services in South East Scotland

Br J Cancer. 2003 Nov 3;89(9):1650-6. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601348.


As part of a cluster randomised trial to assess an alternative model of cancer genetics services, we gathered data on all referrals from general practitioners (GPs) to cancer genetics services in South East Scotland over a 4-year period. The referral rate per 1000 patients rose by 48% from 0.21 in the 2-year period before the trial to 0.31 during the trial. This increase was much greater in the trial group offered the GP clinic service (64% increase compared to a 38% increase in those referred to the regional service). Thus, the offer of a more local service appeared to have a marked effect on GP management of these women. Referral rates to cancer genetics services from general practices varied widely with higher referral rates from practices with more female partners. There was a negative correlation between referral rates and practice area deprivation scores. However, this was not found during the trial in the group which offered clinics in general practice, the provision of clinic appointments nearer to the homes of more socially deprived women resulting in improved access to women from deprived areas. The interaction with the GP appears to be associated with an inappropriate level of interest in and expectation of the appropriateness of genetic testing. The provision of the clinics within general practice did not result in higher levels of confidence among GPs in managing these women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Physicians, Family / statistics & numerical data
  • Primary Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • Referral and Consultation / statistics & numerical data*
  • Scotland