Setting a baseline: A 7-year review of referral rates and outcomes for serous ovarian cancer prior to implementation of oncologist mediated genetic testing

Gynecol Oncol. 2020 Aug;158(2):440-445. doi: 10.1016/j.ygyno.2020.05.014. Epub 2020 Jun 3.


Objective: Despite guidelines recommending that all women with invasive serous ovarian cancer (SOC) are offered genetic testing, published referral and testing rates have been poor. Many centers have implemented novel genetic counseling service delivery models to increase testing rates. In light of increased awareness and implementation of small process changes at our center, this study aims to establish baseline referral rates and testing outcomes prior to diverging from the traditional model of care.

Methods: A list of women diagnosed with SOC at Princess Margaret Cancer Center (PM) between 2010 and 2016 was obtained from the PM Cancer Registry and cross-referenced against the genetics database to determine referral rates and outcomes of genetic testing.

Results: Of 724 women with SOC, 68% were referred for genetic counseling, with an overall testing rate of 61%. Higher referral rates were seen among women with younger ages at diagnosis and high-grade tumors. Of women tested, 22% were found to have a pathogenic variant in BRCA1/2 and 9% in another cancer gene. Notably, 24% of women with a pathogenic variant reported no family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Conclusion: Genetic counseling referral and testing rates for women with SOC are higher than previously reported, yet barriers to referral remain. To maximize genetic testing rates and address increasing patient volumes, clinics may be faced with integrating novel genetic counseling delivery models. Findings from this study may serve as a more accurate baseline to which large scale service delivery changes can be compared.

Keywords: BRCA1; BRCA2; Genetic counseling; Genetic testing; Ovarian cancer; Service delivery.