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Genomic Testing Discussions for Recurrence Risk Evaluated

Study finds one-third of breast cancer patients do not fully understand recurrence risk discussions

MONDAY, March 8 (HealthDay News) -- Although results conveyed by physicians regarding genomic testing for breast cancer recurrence may be understood by most women, a significant number do not completely understand genomic-based recurrence risk discussions, suggesting the need for improved risk communication and treatment decision making between patients and physicians, according to a study published online March 8 in Cancer.

Janice P. Tzeng, of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues conducted a study of 77 women with early-stage, estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer who underwent the Oncotype DX genomic test which looks at 21 genes in surgically removed breast tumors. The participants completed mailed surveys about how they received and understood the information on risk of recurrence that the test provided.

The researchers found that, overall, 71 percent of women accurately recalled the recurrence risk result from the test, and 67 percent reported that they understood the implications of their test results, with one-quarter of the women experiencing test-related distress. Only 7 percent of women with a low recurrence risk underwent chemotherapy, while 78 percent of women with a high recurrence risk underwent chemotherapy.

"A significant number of women did not fully understand discussions about their genomic-based recurrence risk, which presents the need to continue developing optimal ways to communicate and ensure both perceived and actual comprehension of genomic-based information," the authors write.

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