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Katz awarded $1.4M from American Cancer Society to examine disparities in genetic testing for cancer

Date Visible: 
07/06/2020 - 2:30am

Media contact: Nicole Fawcett, 734-764-2220 |  Patients may contact Cancer AnswerLine™ 800-865-1125

A $1.4 million grant from the American Cancer Society will allow a team of researchers led by the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center to survey a diverse group of breast cancer patients and their relatives about their experience with genetic testing and their understanding of hereditary cancer risk and prevention.

There is growing support for all women diagnosed with breast cancer to undergo genetic risk evaluation, which can help guide treatment decisions and identify other family members at risk of developing breast cancer. But as genetic testing panels have become more sophisticated, often testing for 20 or more genetic variants, results can be complex.

“There may be growing mismatch between test results and patients’ attitudes and behaviors about hereditary cancer risk and prevention,” says principal investigator Steven J. Katz, M.D., MPH, professor of general medicine and of health management and policy at U-M. “Growing variability in the implications of test results on a person’s risk of cancer may create more gaps and disparities in engagement and outcomes between patients and their relatives – especially in high-risk families.”

Katz will lead a team of investigators from Stanford University, the University of Southern California, Emory University and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, who will survey breast cancer patients who received germline genetic testing and their first degree relatives. The goals are:

  • To examine potential gaps and disparities in patients’ attitudes and behaviors about cancer risk reduction strategies, such as preventive surgery and high-risk surveillance, in relation to their genetic test results.
  • To examine potential gaps and disparities in family communication about genetic test results reported by patients.
  • To examine barriers to genetic risk evaluation reported by relatives of patients with pathogenic variants.

“We hope the results of this study will influence clinical policy to improve equity and access to prevention by addressing gaps and disparities in genetic risk evaluation after diagnosis of cancer,” Katz says.



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