Genetic Testing and Results in a Population-Based Cohort of Breast Cancer Patients and Ovarian Cancer Patients


Genetic testing for cancer risk has expanded rapidly. We examined clinical genetic testing and results among population-based patients with breast and ovarian cancer.


The study included all women 20 years of age or older diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer in California and Georgia between 2013 and 2014 and reported to the SEER registries covering the entire state populations. SEER data were linked to resultsfrom four laboratories that performed nearly all germline cancer genetic testing. Testing use and results were analyzed at the gene level.


There were 77,085 patients with breast cancer and 6,001 with ovarian cancer. Nearly one quarter of those with breast cancer(24.1%) and one third of those with ovarian cancer (30.9%) had genetic test results. Among patients with ovarian cancer, testing was lower in blacks (21.6%; 95% CI, 18.1% to 25.4%; v whites, 33.8%; 95% CI, 32.3% to 35.3%) and uninsured patients (20.8%; 95% CI, 15.5% to 26.9%; v insured patients, 35.3%; 95% CI, 33.8% to 36.9%). Prevalent pathogenic variants in patients with breast cancer were BRCA1 (3.2%), BRCA2 (3.1%), CHEK 2 (1.6%), PALB2 (1.0%), ATM (0.7%), and NBN (0.4%); in patients with ovarian cancer, prevalent pathogenic variants were BRCA1 (8.7%), BRCA2 (5.8%), CHEK2 (1.4%), BRIP1 (0.9%), MSH2 (0.8%), and ATM (0.6%). Racial/ethnic differences in pathogenic variants included BRCA1 (ovarian cancer: whites, 7.2%; 95% CI, 5.9% to 8.8%; v Hispanics, 16.1%; 95% CI, 11.8% to 21.2%) and CHEK2 (breast cancer: whites, 2.3%; 95% CI, 1.8% to 2.8%; v blacks, 0.1%; 95% CI, 0% to 0.8%). When tested for all genes that current guidelines designate as associated with their cancer type, 7.8% of patients with breast cancer and 14.5% of patients with ovarian cancer had pathogenic variants.


Clinically-tested patients with breast and ovarian cancer in two large, diverse states had 8% to 15% prevalence of actionable pathogenic variants. Substantial testing gaps and disparities among patients with ovarian cancer are targets for improvement.