Patients’ views of treatment focused genetic testing (TFGT): some lessons for the mainstreaming of BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing

Sarah Wright, Mary Porteous, Diane Stirling, Julia Lawton, Oliver Young, Charles Gourley, Nina Hallowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores patients' views and experiences of undergoing treatment-focused BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing (TFGT), either offered following triaging to clinical genetics (breast cancer) or as part of a mainstreamed care pathway in oncology (ovarian cancer). Drawing on 26 in-depth interviews with patients with breast or ovarian cancer who had undergone TFGT, this retrospective study examines patients' views of genetic testing at this point in their care pathway, focusing on issues, such as initial response to the offer of testing, motivations for undergoing testing, and views on care pathways. Patients were amenable to the incorporation of TFGT at an early stage in their cancer care irrespective of (any) prior anticipation of having a genetic test or family history. While patients were glad to have been offered TFGT as part of their care, some questioned the logic of the test's timing in relation to their cancer treatment. Crucially, patients appeared unable to disentangle the treatment role of TFGT from its preventative function for self and other family members, suggesting that some may undergo TFGT to obtain information for others rather than for self.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing; Breast/ovarian cancer; Clinical implementation; Mainstreaming; Patient experience; Treatment-focused genetic testing (TFGT)
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1459-1472
JournalJournal of genetic counseling
Issue number6
Early online date11 May 2018
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2018

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