Hereditary cancer panel testing challenges and solutions for the latinx community: costs, access, and variants

J Community Genet. 2022 Feb;13(1):75-80. doi: 10.1007/s12687-021-00563-y. Epub 2021 Nov 6.


Hereditary breast and ovarian cancers (HBOCs) are common among the Latinx population, and risk testing is recommended using multi-gene hereditary cancer panels (HCPs). However, little is known about how payer reimbursement and out-of-pocket expenses impact provider ordering of HCP in the Latinx population. Our objective is to describe key challenges and possible solutions for HCP testing in the Latinx population. As part of a larger study, we conducted semi-structured interviews with key provider informants (genetic counselors, oncologist, nurse practitioner) from safety-net institutions in the San Francisco Bay Area. We used a deductive thematic analysis approach to summarize themes around challenges and possible solutions to facilitating HCP testing in Latinx patients. We found few financial barriers for HCP testing for the Latinx population due to laboratory patient assistance programs that cover testing at low or no cost to patients. However, we found potential challenges related to the sustainability of low-cost testing and out-of-pocket expenses for patients, access to cascade testing for family members, and pathogenic variants specific to Latinx. Providers questioned whether current laboratory payment programs that decrease barriers to testing are sustainable and suggested solutions for accessing cascade testing and ensuring variants specific to the Latinx population were included in testing. The use of laboratories with payment assistance programs reduces barriers to HCP testing among the US population; however, other barriers are present that may impact testing use in the Latinx population and must be addressed to ensure equitable access to HCP testing for this population.

Keywords: Access; Cascade testing; Cost; Hereditary cancer panels; Latinx.