Oncology health professionals’ attitudes toward treatment-focused genetic testing for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer

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Abstract

Aim:

This study explored the attitudes of oncology health professionals towards treatment-focused genetic testing (TFGT) for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

Materials & methods:

Members of several relevant medical organizations in Australia and New Zealand were invited via email to participate in an online survey.

Results:

A total of 149 respondents, including 40 surgeons, 46 oncologists and 63 breast care nurses, completed the online questionnaire. The majority of respondents believed that TFGT was useful for patient care (87.3%) and valuable for the treatment and management of breast cancer (90.6%). In multivariable analyses, breast care nurses were significantly more likely to agree that TFGT was useful for patient care and the treatment and management of breast cancer compared with oncologists and surgeons (β = 0.30; 95% CI: 0.01–0.60; p = 0.045). Participants also agreed that TFGT has an impact on treatment decision-making (96.0%), uptake of bilateral mastectomy (98.7%) and uptake of risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy (98.0%) in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer. A slight preference towards surgeons (49.7%) as the best health professional to make the initial offer of TFGT was observed and the majority of respondents suggested the best time to offer TFGT was shortly after diagnosis, when the treatment plan is discussed.

Conclusion:

The findings suggest health professionals have positive attitudes towards TFGT. Future training programs focusing on teamwork models and guidelines specifying health professionals’ roles in regards to TFGT and follow-up management may be of benefit.

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