Genetic testing for patients at risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer

JAAPA. 2022 Oct 1;35(10):48-52. doi: 10.1097/01.JAA.0000873796.81961.da.


The field of cancer genetic testing has made great advances in correctly identifying patients at risk for hereditary cancer syndromes. These tests, used during a genetic consultation, promote earlier detection of cancer and potentially increase survival. Despite these advancements, a large number of persons at risk for BRCA1/2 mutations remain untested due to a shortage of genetic counselors and lack of clinician knowledge on how to properly screen, identify, and refer patients to genetic counseling. We suggest team-based practices that physician associates/assistants (PAs) and NPs can use in collaboration with genetic counselors. We also explore how PAs and NPs can alleviate the burden on genetic counselors by taking a comprehensive family history, providing elements of counseling, and ordering appropriate genetic tests. This approach maximizes the amount of time the patient spends receiving actual genetic counseling. By creating this collaborative relationship, PAs and NPs can help increase the number of qualifying patients who receive genetic testing and counseling for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndromes.

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Counseling
  • Female
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary* / diagnosis
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary* / genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Ovarian Neoplasms* / genetics