Genetic Counseling Referral Rates in Long-Term Survivors of Triple-Negative Breast Cancer

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Background: Inherited BRCA gene mutations (pathogenic variants) cause 10% of breast cancers. BRCA pathogenic variants predispose carriers to triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC); around 30% of patients with TNBC carry BRCA pathogenic variants. The 2018 NCCN Guidelines for Genetic/Familial High-Risk Assessment: Breast and Ovarian recommend genetic counseling referrals for patients with TNBC diagnosed at age ≤60 years. This study sought to describe genetic counseling referral patterns among long-term TNBC survivors at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center. Methods: This single-institution retrospective analysis of female long-term (disease-free for ≥5 years) TNBC survivors sought to determine the rate of genetic counseling referral among patients diagnosed at age ≤60 years between 1992 and 2008. Patients who underwent treatment and surveillance visits at our institution and were followed until 2017 were included. We collected BRCA pathogenic variant status among tested patients. Descriptive statistical methods and a univariate analysis were used to identify patient characteristics associated with genetic counseling referral. Results: We identified 646 female long-term TNBC survivors with a median age at diagnosis of 47 years. Of these, 245 (38%) received a recommendation for a genetic counseling referral. Among those referred, 156 (64%) underwent genetic testing, and 35% of those tested had BRCA pathogenic variants. Interestingly, among those referred, 20% declined genetic testing. The rate of genetic referrals improved over time, from 25% among TNBC survivors whose last surveillance visit was between 2011 and 2013 to 100% among those whose last surveillance visit was between 2014 or later. Younger age and premenopausal status at diagnosis and a family history of breast or ovarian cancer were associated with an increased rate of referral for genetic counseling. Conclusions: Among long-term TNBC survivors, the rate of referral to genetic counseling increased over time, and among those tested, 35% carried a BRCA pathogenic variant. Survivorship care provides an excellent opportunity to refer eligible patients for genetic counseling.

These authors contributed equally.

Author contributions: Study concept and design: Barcenas, Shafaee. Data acquisition: Barcenas, Shafaee, Raghavendra, Saigal, Murthy, Woodson. Data analysis and interpretation: Barcenas, Shafaee, Sinha, Raghavendra, Arun. Manuscript preparation and final approval: All authors.

Correspondence: Carlos H. Barcenas, MD, MS, Department of Breast Medical Oncology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, 1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Unit 1358, Houston, TX 77030. Email: chbarcenas@mdanderson.org
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