National Survey Reveals Low Public Awareness and Understanding of BRCA Testing for Risk of Inherited Breast and Ovarian Cancers Among American Women
Also today, Quest announced that it has introduced BRCAvantage™, a new choice in BRCA testing offered by the company that's intended to significantly broaden patient and provider access to services to help assess a woman's risk of inherited breast and ovarian cancers.
Survey findings document that low public awareness of BRCA testing is compounded by misconceptions about the BRCA test and pervasive confusion or concern about what to do with the information it provides. The survey also illuminates perceived impediments that may deter access to appropriate BRCA testing and insight into some of the issues that have surrounded its emergence.
Representative findings include:
- Among all U.S. women age 18 and older, 72 percent said they had never heard of the BRCA test
- Among the women who are at least somewhat familiar with BRCA testing, only 17 percent have discussed it with their healthcare provider
- Among American women who have not been tested, only 29 percent say they know what a genetic counselor is, and an even fewer nine percent say they know how to get in touch with one
- Although 58 percent of women who have not been tested indicated they would want to know for sure if they carried high-risk gene mutations, 82 percent said they would not know what to do with, or would not be sure what to do with, the results of BRCA testing information if they were to have the test
The survey also found that U.S. women were largely supportive of open access to BRCA data and multiple BRCA test providers:
- When women who have not had BRCA testing done were asked to speculate if they would consent to have identity-protected genetic data from their BRCA test shared to advance cancer research, 57 percent said yes
- More than half of U.S. women (51 percent) believe that having more companies offer BRCA testing will improve the quality and innovation of BRCA diagnostic options
Women who have not had BRCA testing done also indicated that affordability of BRCA testing would impact their decision to receive the test, with 73 percent of these women saying that the potential cost of a BRCA test would prevent them from getting one.
"These survey results suggest a significant gap in the public's practical understanding of BRCA testing at a time when a growing number of genetic tests are available to yield critical insights for guiding healthcare decision-making," said
"It is ironic that we share this survey's findings in October, breast cancer awareness month, given that the results glaringly reveal the need for greater patient awareness of the potential benefits and limitations of BRCA testing for assessing breast and ovarian cancer risks," said Dr. Cohen.
This survey was conducted online within