In Practice

Genetic testing approaches for hereditary breast cancer: Perspectives from a private diagnostic laboratory

D C Smith, S A Gardiner, M Conradie, J Gerber, F Loubser

Abstract


Breast cancer is highly prevalent in South Africa, and up to 10% of breast cancer cases may be hereditary. The landscape of genetic testing options for hereditary breast cancer (HBC) has changed significantly over the past decade, and healthcare providers are faced with multiple options when referring breast cancer patients for genetic testing. We have performed a retrospective study of 3 years’ worth of breast cancer genetic testing referrals to our laboratory. While Afrikaner and Ashkenazi Jewish founder screens may be appropriate as first-line tests in a limited subset of patients, we have shown that in the majority of cases it is more effective to adopt a multigene panel approach. While variants in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes still account for a significant proportion of cases, close to 40% of pathogenic variants were found in genes other than BRCA1 or BRCA2. There are many factors that healthcare providers should consider when requesting genetic testing for breast cancer patients and families, including family history, ancestral background, cost, medical aid scheme reimbursement and scope of testing. We summarise our findings and provide advantages and disadvantages of each approach, with the aim of assisting clinicians and genetic counsellors to make appropriate testing decisions.


Authors' affiliations

D C Smith, Molecular Laboratory, Drs Dietrich, Voigt, Mia & Partners (PathCare) Reference Laboratory, Cape Town, South Africa

S A Gardiner, Molecular Laboratory, Drs Dietrich, Voigt, Mia & Partners (PathCare) Reference Laboratory, Cape Town, South Africa

M Conradie, Molecular Laboratory, Drs Dietrich, Voigt, Mia & Partners (PathCare) Reference Laboratory, Cape Town, South Africa

J Gerber, Molecular Laboratory, Drs Dietrich, Voigt, Mia & Partners (PathCare) Reference Laboratory, Cape Town, South Africa

F Loubser, Molecular Laboratory, Drs Dietrich, Voigt, Mia & Partners (PathCare) Reference Laboratory, Cape Town, South Africa

Full Text

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Keywords

Breast cancer; Ovarian cancer; Genetics; Molecular testing; Molecular diagnostics; Familial cancer

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(10):988-992. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2020.v110i10.14709

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-09-30
Date published: 2020-09-30

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