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Cancer. 1999 Dec 1;86(11 Suppl):2570-4.

Breast cancer genetics and managed care. The Kaiser Permanente experience.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Kaiser Permanente Santa Teresa Medical Center, San Jose, California 95119-1103, USA.


In 1996, with evolution of the science of cancer genetics and the advent of commercially available BRCA1 and later BRCA2 testing, Kaiser Permanente began to apply these advances in clinical practice. Recommendations for referral to genetic counseling were developed in 1997 as the Clinical Practice Guidelines for Referral for Genetic Counseling for Inherited Susceptibility for Breast and Ovarian Cancer. Implementation of these guidelines with associated protocols in Kaiser Permanente's Northern California Region has occupied the ensuing years and includes dissemination of the high-risk guidelines for breast and ovarian cancer, dissemination of patient and physician educational materials on the breast cancer guidelines, monthly classes and taped healthphone messages for patients, interactive videoconferencing for physicians, a training seminar for medical geneticists who will counsel patients at risk, publication of articles on breast cancer and genetic risk in health plan member- and physician-directed magazines, identification and training of clinical specialists and supporting clinicians to care for patients before and after counseling, individual counseling and testing of patients and families, and development of a data registry. Implementing the guidelines helped us communicate the uncertainty surrounding breast cancer testing, and we were obliged to learn more about ethical, legal, societal, and insurance controversies surrounding genetic testing. Given the lack of effective prevention for breast or ovarian cancer and the difficulty of treatment, the appropriate use of genetics in patient care is essential. In the near future, we will see the need for cancer genetics to become an integral part of practice throughout the spectrum of health care. We at Kaiser Permanente feel that the breast cancer guideline project is the first step in this process.

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