ALLENTOWN, Pa.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--TME Research today announced the launch of a study with Invitae Corporation, a genetic information company, aimed at understanding the impact of access to remote peer-to-peer case review for surgeons who lack local genetic counseling support. The objective of the project is to assess if such access alters the implementation of hereditary cancer risk assessment within specialty breast cancer practices.
Faced with an increasing demand for hereditary cancer genetic testing as part of the continuum of surgical care and a shortage of genetic counselors, breast surgeons are taking on the role of counseling and testing appropriate groups of patients and expanding a collaborative, multidisciplinary model of genetic testing to community practices. Societies such as the American Society of Breast Surgeons (ASBS) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have encouraged this practice improvement. The latter organization in a recent policy update stated that, “providers offering comprehensive cross disciplinary skill sets are necessary to ensure patients have access to services.”
“The advent of broad genetic testing technologies combined with our advanced understanding of cancer biology has made genetic counseling an integral part of risk assessment and comprehensive cancer care,” said Dr. Rakesh Patel, oncologist at Valley Medical Oncology Consultants and principal investigator of the program. “This innovative telemedicine project importantly expands the reach of specialized genetic counselors to help educate and guide breast cancer physicians on selecting genetic tests and navigating the results to create a personalized risk-based treatment plan for each patient they encounter.”
This project will include 15-20 physicians from surgical practices across the United States who do not have genetic counselor support in their practice and will include 200 patients. Physicians will identify patients for genetic testing as part of standard practice and before requisitioning a specific test, will use teleconferencing to discuss the case with a genetic counselor specialized in cancer genetics, to review the patient and family history, and select appropriate testing. Once results are available, the surgeon and counselor will discuss result interpretation and management recommendations during a second call.
Clinicians will provide feedback on how the information provided by the genetic counselor was helpful in selecting an appropriate test, understanding results, making medical management recommendations, counseling the patient, and identifying additional patient resources. Results of the study are expected to provide insight into how immediate access to genetic counselor support may assist physicians in ordering genetic testing for their patients. In addition, the study may provide insight about how best to disseminate genetic information and improve communication about genetic testing.
“As germline genetic testing is adopted into mainstream medical care, genetic counselors play a critical role in provider education and supporting clinicians who perform appropriate hereditary cancer risk assessment. This study reflects the expanding role of genetic counselors as genetic experts beyond direct patient care and into provider support and education,” said Raluca Kurz, M.S., LCGC, genetic counselor at Invitae. “Given the increasing need for genetic counselors, we’re committed to looking at unique approaches to ensure clinicians and the patients they serve have access to these professionals, and are eager to see how this project might inform how we can better serve the medical community.”
Cancer risk assessment, testing, and counseling are routinely performed by genetic counselors in the United States, however there are currently fewer than 3,000 genetic counselors. They are predominantly located in highly populated states and near cities and deal with a broad array of genetic diseases, including cancer. In addition, the technology for hereditary breast cancer testing has expanded from BRCA genes alone to multi-gene panels targeting a broader group of hereditary cancer syndromes such as Cowden Syndrome, Li-Fraumeni syndrome, and others.
Most patients with breast cancer mutations are identified after they develop cancer. It is widely accepted that fewer than 10% of more than 220,000 unaffected BRCA carriers in the U.S. have been identified and informed. Panel testing can now identify even more women eligible for life-saving targeted screening and management.
TME is a network of clinicians, researchers, educators and companies whose core mission is to improve the quality and access to targeted breast cancer care by fostering high quality and comprehensive educational programs and resources. TME research is an extension of the TME mission and designs, executes and optimizes accrual in breast cancer and breast health studies with a focus on performing these studies with community leaders. TME is headquartered in Allentown, PA. For more information, visit http://www.tmeded.com.