A statewide survey of practitioners to assess knowledge and clinical practices regarding hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

Genet Test Mol Biomarkers. 2013 May;17(5):367-75. doi: 10.1089/gtmb.2012.0381. Epub 2013 Feb 28.


Purpose: This study describes practitioner knowledge and practices related to BRCA testing and management and explores how training may contribute to practice patterns.

Methods: A survey was mailed to all BRCA testing providers in Florida listed in a publicly available directory. Descriptive statistics characterized participants and their responses.

Results: Of the 87 respondents, most were community-based physicians or nurse practitioners. Regarding BRCA mutations, the majority (96%) recognized paternal inheritance and 61% accurately estimated mutation prevalence. For a 35-year-old unaffected BRCA mutation carrier, the majority followed national management guidelines. However, 65% also recommended breast ultrasonography. Fewer than 40% recognized the need for comprehensive rearrangement testing when BRACAnalysis(®) was negative in a woman at 30% risk. Finally, fewer than 15% recognized appropriate testing for a BRCA variant of uncertain significance. Responses appeared to be positively impacted by presence and type of cancer genetics training.

Conclusions: In our sample of providers who order BRCA testing, knowledge gaps in BRCA prevalence estimates and appropriate screening, testing, and results interpretation were identified. Our data suggest the need to increase regulation and oversight of genetic testing services at a policy level, and are consistent with case reports that reveal liability risks when genetic testing is conducted without adequate knowledge and training.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology
  • Female
  • Florida
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genetic Testing
  • Health Care Surveys*
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms / psychology
  • Practice Patterns, Physicians'*
  • Risk Factors


  • BRCA1 Protein