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Br J Cancer. 2007 Jan 29;96(2):391-8.

Estimating the referral rate for cancer genetic assessment from a systematic review of the evidence.

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Department of Oncology, Beatson Oncology Centre, Glasgow, G11 6NT, Scotland.


To estimate the optimal proportion of new patients diagnosed with cancer who require assessment and evaluation for familial cancer genetic risk, based on the best evidence available. We identified evidence of the patients who require assessment for familial genetic risk when diagnosed with cancer through extensive literature reviews and searches of guidelines. Epidemiological data on the distribution of cancer type, presence of a family history, age and other factors that influence referral for genetic assessment were identified. Decision trees were constructed to merge the evidence-based recommendations with the epidemiological data to calculate the optimal proportion of patients who should be referred. We identified 'high probability' and 'moderate probability' groups for having a genetic susceptibility. The proportion of patients diagnosed with cancer in Australia who have a high probability of having a genetic predisposition and who should be referred for genetic assessment is 1%. If the moderate probability group is also assessed this proportion increases to 6%. This model has identified the proportion of new patients diagnosed with cancer who should be referred for genetic assessment. This data is the first step in determining the resources required for provision of an adequate cancer genetic service.

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