What are the results and outcomes of more comprehensive genetic sequencing after diagnosis of breast cancer?
In this population-based study, multiple-gene sequencing markedly replaced BRCA1- and BRCA2-only tests and enabled 2-fold higher detection of clinically relevant pathogenic variants without an associated increase in prophylactic mastectomy. Multiple-gene sequencing was more often delayed postsurgery and yielded much higher rates of variants of uncertain significance, particularly in racial/ethnic minorities.
Multiple-gene sequencing rapidly replaced more limited testing and enabled 2-fold higher detection of clinically relevant findings, but important targets for improvement include postsurgical delay and racial/ethnic disparity in variants of uncertain significance.
Low-cost sequencing of multiple genes is increasingly available for cancer risk assessment. Little is known about uptake or outcomes of multiple-gene sequencing after breast cancer diagnosis in community practice.
To examine the effect of multiple-gene sequencing on the experience and treatment outcomes for patients with breast cancer.
Design, Setting, and Participants
For this population-based retrospective cohort study, patients with breast cancer diagnosed from January 2013 to December 2015 and accrued from SEER registries across Georgia and in Los Angeles, California, were surveyed (n = 5080, response rate = 70%). Responses were merged with SEER data and results of clinical genetic tests, either BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) sequencing only or including additional other genes (multiple-gene sequencing), provided by 4 laboratories.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Type of testing (multiple-gene sequencing vs BRCA1/2-only sequencing), test results (negative, variant of unknown significance, or pathogenic variant), patient experiences with testing (timing of testing, who discussed results), and treatment (strength of patient consideration of, and surgeon recommendation for, prophylactic mastectomy), and prophylactic mastectomy receipt. We defined a patient subgroup with higher pretest risk of carrying a pathogenic variant according to practice guidelines.
Among 5026 patients (mean [SD] age, 59.9 [10.7] years), 1316 (26.2%) were linked to genetic results from any laboratory. Multiple-gene sequencing increasingly replaced BRCA1/2-only testing over time: in 2013, the rate of multiple-gene sequencing was 25.6% and BRCA1/2-only testing, 74.4%; in 2015 the rate of multiple-gene sequencing was 66.5% and BRCA1/2-only testing, 33.5%. Multiple-gene sequencing was more often ordered by genetic counselors (multiple-gene sequencing, 25.5% and BRCA1/2-only testing, 15.3%) and delayed until after surgery (multiple-gene sequencing, 32.5% and BRCA1/2-only testing, 19.9%). Multiple-gene sequencing substantially increased rate of detection of any pathogenic variant (multiple-gene sequencing: higher-risk patients, 12%; average-risk patients, 4.2% and BRCA1/2-only testing: higher-risk patients, 7.8%; average-risk patients, 2.2%) and variants of uncertain significance, especially in minorities (multiple-gene sequencing: white patients, 23.7%; black patients, 44.5%; and Asian patients, 50.9% and BRCA1/2-only testing: white patients, 2.2%; black patients, 5.6%; and Asian patients, 0%). Multiple-gene sequencing was not associated with an increase in the rate of prophylactic mastectomy use, which was highest with pathogenic variants in BRCA1/2 (BRCA1/2, 79.0%; other pathogenic variant, 37.6%; variant of uncertain significance, 30.2%; negative, 35.3%).
Conclusions and Relevance
Multiple-gene sequencing rapidly replaced BRCA1/2-only testing for patients with breast cancer in the community and enabled 2-fold higher detection of clinically relevant pathogenic variants without an associated increase in prophylactic mastectomy. However, important targets for improvement in the clinical utility of multiple-gene sequencing include postsurgical delay and racial/ethnic disparity in variants of uncertain significance.
Kurian AW, Ward KC, Hamilton AS, et al. Uptake, Results, and Outcomes of Germline Multiple-Gene Sequencing After Diagnosis of Breast Cancer. JAMA Oncol. 2018;4(8):1066–1072. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0644
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