Familial Cancer

, Volume 14, Issue 2, pp 265–272 | Cite as

Health professionals’ evaluation of delivering treatment-focused genetic testing to women newly diagnosed with breast cancer

  • Kirsten F. L. Douma
  • Bettina Meiser
  • Judy Kirk
  • Gillian Mitchell
  • Christobel Saunders
  • Belinda Rahman
  • Mariana S. Sousa
  • Kristine Barlow-Stewart
  • Margaret Gleeson
  • Kathy Tucker
Original Article


Increasingly, women are offered genetic testing shortly after diagnosis of breast cancer to facilitate decision-making about treatment, often referred to as ‘treatment-focused genetic testing’ (TFGT). As understanding the attitudes of health professionals is likely to inform its integration into clinical care we surveyed professionals who participated in our TFGT randomized control study. Thirty-six completed surveys were received (response rate 59 %), 15 (42 %) health professionals classified as genetic and 21 (58 %) as non-genetic. Mainly positive experiences with participating in the TFGT trial were reported. The high cost of testing and who could best deliver information about TGFT to the patient were raised as key constraints to implementation of TFGT in usual care. More non-genetic than genetic health professionals (44 vs 8 %) preferred that the surgeon provide the information for decision-making about TFGT. While costs of TFGT itself and the time and effort of staff involved were perceived barriers, as testing costs become lower, it is expected that TFGT will become a routine part of standard clinical care for patients at high genetic risk in the near future.


Oncology professionals Attitudes Genetic testing Breast cancer Diagnosis Treatment-focused genetic testing Rapid genetic counseling 



This study was funded as part of a Priority-Driven Collaborative Research Scheme grant that was jointly supported by Cancer Australia, Cancer Council and the National Breast Cancer Foundation (ID 630405). Bettina Meiser is supported by a Career Development Fellowship Award from the National Health and Medical Research Council Australia and a Cancer Institute New South Wales Career Development Fellowship. Kirsten Douma is supported by a Fellowship Award from the Dutch Cancer Society (UVA 2011-4918). We thank the health professionals who participated in this study. We gratefully acknowledge the support and endorsement of the Psycho-oncology Cooperative Research Group (PoCoG) for this project.

Conflict of interest

No conflict of interest are reported.

Supplementary material

10689_2014_9770_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (108 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 107 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsten F. L. Douma
    • 1
  • Bettina Meiser
    • 2
  • Judy Kirk
    • 3
  • Gillian Mitchell
    • 4
    • 5
  • Christobel Saunders
    • 6
  • Belinda Rahman
    • 2
  • Mariana S. Sousa
    • 2
  • Kristine Barlow-Stewart
    • 7
  • Margaret Gleeson
    • 8
  • Kathy Tucker
    • 9
  1. 1.Department of Medical Psychology, Academic Medical CenterUniversity of AmsterdamAmsterdamThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Psychosocial Research Group, Lowy Cancer Research Centre C25, Prince of Wales Clinical SchoolUniversity of New South Wales AustraliaSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Familial Cancer Service, Westmead Institute for Cancer Research, Westmead Millenium InstituteUniversity of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Familial Cancer Centre, Peter MacCallum Cancer CentreMelbourneAustralia
  5. 5.Sir Peter MacCallum Department of OncologyThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia
  6. 6.School of SurgeryUniversity of Western AustraliaCrawleyAustralia
  7. 7.Sydney Medical SchoolSydney UniversitySydneyAustralia
  8. 8.Hunter Family Cancer ServiceNewcastleAustralia
  9. 9.Hereditary Cancer Clinic, Prince of Wales HospitalRandwick, SydneyAustralia

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