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Telehealth For Ovarian Genetic Counseling Improves Utilization

June 21, 2018

A study presented at ASCO 2018 found that telehealth-based genetic counseling and mandatory discussion of genetic counseling referral at the time of treatment planning improved utilization of genetic counseling for ovarian cancer.

“Genetic counseling is recommended for all women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer, independent of family history,” Kara Milliron, MS, Genetic Counselor at the Breast and Ovarian Cancer Risk Evaluation Clinic at the University of Michigan Medical School, and colleagues wrote. “Despite the potential benefits to the patient and her family, referral rates remain low.”

The researchers aimed to determine how two strategies to improve referral rates and genetic counseling rates would impact utilization. The first strategy involved discussing the referral for all patients during the treatment-planning meeting, and the second strategy involved giving patients the option of telephone-based genetic counseling.

Researchers studied data from patients with a diagnosis of epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, or primary peritoneal cancer. They then measured date of genetic counseling referral, genetic counseling method, date of genetic testing, and genetic test results.

Study results showed that the overall rate of genetic counseling referral was 63.5%, with a total successful genetic counseling rate of 61% among those referred. The researchers found that 77% of genetic counseling were in-person and 23% were conducted via telephone. Additionally, they found that 92.7% of in-person patients underwent testing and 67.9% in the telephone cohort.

“Telephone genetic counseling and mandatory discussion of referral at the time of treatment planning conference both appear to facilitate genetic counseling and ascertainment of actionable germline mutations,” Ms Milliron and colleague concluded. “The implementation of telephone-based genetic counseling programs has the potential to improve both counseling and testing rates, particularly when in-person counseling is not available or is delayed.”

David Costill

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