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Eur J Cancer Care (Engl). 2010 May;19(3):369-76. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2354.2008.01065.x. Epub 2009 Jul 29.

BRCA testing of breast cancer patients: medical specialists' referral patterns, knowledge and attitudes to genetic testing.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands.


This study explores knowledge about hereditary breast cancer, attitudes about BRCA testing and referral pattern to a family cancer clinic among medical specialists. A total of 92 questionnaires were completed by surgeons (38), medical oncologists (29), radiation oncologists (13) and radiologists (12). The response rate was 51%. A substantial (11-56%) proportion of medical specialists do not refer patients who meet current criteria for BRCA testing. Although questions on inheritance were less well answered, overall knowledge was good. They had a positive attitude, but were concerned about the distress DNA testing might cause to family members. The majority (75%) stated that the best time for referral is after adjuvant therapy or during follow-up, but another important determinant was the patient's wish or need (12%). Further studies are needed to gain insight into the actual referral process, while ongoing training of medical specialists about genetic aspects of breast cancer is also necessary.

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