Women with Medicare Found to Have Low Genetic Testing Rates

(August 23, 2018) Researchers from Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research recently conducted a study which focused on Medicare Part B recipients, those above the age of 65 or disabled, who were eligible for genetic testing. More specifically, they looked at women who had been seen at health centers in the Southeast United States between the years 2002 and 2009 and diagnosed with breast cancer, ovarian cancer, or both. Within this population of 718 women, 92 of them were eligible for BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing but only eight of them were tested.

Studies with similar parameters have yielded better results, meaning more women in other populations underwent testing, which was of concern to researchers. Possible reasons for such a low testing rate include lack of physician referrals or no patient interest, but epidemiologist Amy Gross, PhD, stresses the importance of these tests. “Women who carry one of these mutations but don’t know their mutation status are not able to take advantage of preventative or early detection interventions that we have available, so they miss out on the opportunity to reduce their risk for these cancers and potentially reduce their overall mortality.”