Improving Genetic Testing Compliance for Prostate Cancer: A Single-Practice Study

By Zachary Bessette - January 4, 2023

Implementing an on-site, guideline-based, comprehensive genetic testing model for patients with prostate cancer can significantly improve detection rates for pathogenic and actionable mutations, according to a study conducted at a multidisciplinary uro-oncology practice.

Improving these detection rates can further increase the utilization of targeted therapies, study authors added.

Up until 2017, genetic testing for prostate cancer was conducted based on family history of malignancy, in accordance with National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines. In 2019, updated guidelines recommended point-of-care genetic testing and referral to genetic counseling. However, limited published research exists regarding the benefits of implementing a streamlined method for genetic testing.

Savitha Balaraman, MD, of the Michigan Healthcare Professionals, and colleagues sought to assess the benefits of implementing an on-site, guideline-based genetic testing process for patients with prostate cancer at a single uro-oncology clinic. Data from 552 patients seen in the clinic since January 2017 were retrospectively reviewed.

Researchers noted that prior to September 2018, swabs for testing were procured for 78 patients off-site. After September 2018, genetic testing was recommended based on the Philadelphia Consensus Conference guidelines, and swabs for testing were procured for 474 patients at the clinic.

Implementation of the on-site, guideline-based testing resulted in a statistically significant increase in testing compliance, Dr. Balaraman and colleagues reported. Prior to on-site implementation, compliance rates for genetic testing and follow-up counseling were 33.6% and 0%, respectively. After implementation, compliance rates rose significantly to 98.7% and 60.0%, respectively (P<.0001 for both).

Additionally, they found that the time to receive genetic testing results was reduced from 38 days to 21 days.

“Given the growing importance of genetic testing in the management of prostate cancer in the setting of underutilization of genetic testing, these results present a solution to bolster genetic testing usage with corresponding improvements in patient compliance,” study authors concluded. They added that further analyses with larger patient samples are needed.