Uptake of BRCA 1/2 and oncotype DX testing by medical and surgical oncologists

Breast Cancer Res Treat. 2018 Aug;171(1):173-180. doi: 10.1007/s10549-018-4810-2. Epub 2018 May 8.


Purpose: The diffusion of genomic testing is critical to the success of precision medicine, but there is limited information on oncologists' uptake of genetic technology. We aimed to assess the frequency with which medical oncologists and surgeons order BRCA 1/2 and Oncotype DX testing for breast cancer patients.

Methods: We surveyed 732 oncologists and surgeons treating breast cancer patients. Physicians were from Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and were listed in the 2010 AMA Masterfile or identified by patients.

Results: 80.6% of providers ordered BRCA 1/2 testing at least sometimes and 85.4% ordered Oncotype DX (p = 0.01). More frequent ordering of BRCA 1/2 was associated with more positive attitudes toward genetic innovation (OR 1.14, p = 0.001), a belief that testing was likely to be covered by patients' insurance (OR 2.84, p < 0.001), and more frequent ordering of Oncotype DX testing (OR 8.69, p < 0.001). More frequent use of Oncotype DX was associated with a belief that testing was likely to be covered by insurance (OR 7.33, p < 0.001), as well as with more frequent ordering of BRCA 1/2 testing (OR 9.48, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Nearly one in five providers never or rarely ever ordered BRCA 1/2 testing for their breast cancer patients, and nearly 15% never or rarely ever ordered Oncotype DX. Less frequent ordering of BRCA 1/2 is associated with less frequent use of Oncotype DX testing, and vice versa. Those who do not order BRCA 1/2 testing report less positive attitudes toward genetic innovation. Further education of this subset of providers regarding the benefits of precision medicine may enable more rapid diffusion of genetic technology.

Keywords: BRCA1/2 testing; Breast cancer; Oncotype DX; Precision medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • BRCA1 Protein / genetics*
  • BRCA2 Protein / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Female
  • Genetic Testing* / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Oncologists
  • Precision Medicine / methods
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • BRCA1 Protein
  • BRCA1 protein, human
  • BRCA2 Protein
  • BRCA2 protein, human