Testing for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 is recommended for all women with ovarian cancer, given important implications for treatment and prognosis. Despite this recommendation, studies show that only a small percentage of patients with ovarian cancer undergo genetic testing (GT).

In a recent study, the researchers evaluated rates of genetics referral, counseling, and testing among patients with ovarian cancer at an academic medical center. They sought to identify factors associated with lower rates of GT, with specific emphasis on the association between race and GT, given limited existing data. Of 171 patients, most were predominantly White (59.4%), followed by Black (29.1%), Asian (10.3%), and Hispanic (1.2%).

Overall, GT rates were low, with 44.7% of patients referred for genetic counseling and 39.8% receiving testing. Among patients who did receive GT, the percentage of deleterious BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations identified was 11% and 8.8%, respectively. Variables correlating with higher likelihood of genetics discussion, referral, and testing included serous histology, White or Asian race, and seeing a medical oncologist. Notably, while fewer Black women were referred for GT, those that did undergo GT were found to have higher rates of BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations when compared to White patients.