Genetic services for hereditary breast/ovarian and colorectal cancers - physicians' awareness, use and satisfaction

Community Genet. 2008;11(1):43-51. doi: 10.1159/000111639. Epub 2008 Jan 15.


Objectives: In 2000, the Ministry of Health in Ontario, Canada, introduced a publicly funded program to provide genetic services for hereditary breast/ovarian and colorectal cancers. We surveyed physicians to determine their awareness, use and satisfaction with this program.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire was mailed to a random sample of 25% of Ontario family physicians and all gynecologists, oncologists (radiation, surgical and medical), gastroenterologists and general surgeons.

Results: Response rate was 49% (n = 1,427). Awareness of genetic testing for breast/ovarian cancer was high (91%) but less for colorectal cancer (60%). Use of services was associated with physician age of 40 or greater, urban location, confidence in knowledge of referral criteria and core competencies in genetics, and awareness of the program and where to refer. Almost half were dissatisfied with notification about the program.

Conclusions: Ontario physicians are aware of cancer genetics services, and use is associated with increased knowledge of services, and confidence in skills. They would like more timely services and education about hereditary cancers and susceptibility testing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Oncology / organization & administration
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'
  • Surveys and Questionnaires