Original Report

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer: risk assessment in minority women and provider knowledge gaps


Background The Georgia Breast Cancer Genomics Project identified minority and underserved women at high risk for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer based on family history. Education, web-based screening, genetic counseling, and testing were provided in public health and primary care settings in accordance with evidence-based recommendations and guidelines.
Objectives To assess risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC) among minority and underserved women, provide genetic services according to evidence-based guidelines, and evaluate provider knowledge of HBOC.
Methods The Georgia Department of Public Health established this project through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. HBOC screening and genetic services were provided in 13 public health centers and federally qualified health centers. Staff received training on genetics and risk assessment using the Breast Cancer Genetics Referral Screening Tool (B-RST). Providers and medical residents were surveyed on their knowledge of HBOC. Young women with breast cancer were surveyed on receipt of genetic services.
Results More than 5,400 women were successfully screened; 79% identified as racial/ethnic minorities. 5% of women screened positive on the B-RST, which is consistent with HBOC prevalence; 79% agreed to follow up. 23% met criteria for increased risk of BRCA 1/2 mutation and received genetic counseling and testing. Surveys revealed profound gaps in knowledge among physicians and medical residents and lack of delivery of evidence-based genetic services to survivors.
Conclusions The genomics project demonstrated the efficacy of population-based screening to identify high-risk women before they receive a diagnosis of cancer. A high percentage of women who screened positive also completed genetic counseling and testing. Access to the benefits of HBOC management to prevent cancer and decrease mortality among minority and underserved women depends on improvements in knowledge of genetics and evidence-based practice by providers.
Funding/sponsorship This project was funded through a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Georgia Department of Public Health from 2011-2014.

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