Patients with prostate cancer typically share their germline genetic testing results with their immediate family members, but “some communication barriers exist,” according to the authors of a recent study.
The results of the study, led by Amy Leader, PhD, MPH, of the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center at Thomas Jefferson University, were published in The Journal of Community Genetics.
Researchers interviewed 12 patients with prostate cancer who received germline genetic testing results indicating a positive variant/likely positive variant (n = 7) or a variant of unknown significance (n = 5).
The interviews were semi-structured, covering the genetic testing experience, impact, and interpretation of the test result, the patient’s decision on whether to communicate test results to family members, the impact of communication on family members, and suggestions for genetic counselors and other patients with prostate cancer.
Emotional Impact of Genetic Testing Results
Receiving genetic testing results indicating a positive variant/likely positive variant or a variant of unknown significance “was not as emotional as receiving the diagnosis of [prostate cancer] itself” for the participants in the study, researchers reported.
Sharing Results With Family Members
Seven of the 12 participants chose to share their test results with “all relevant family members,” researchers reported. Four participants chose to share the test results with select family members and one participant chose not to disclose the results to any family member.
While germline genetic testing results have implications for a patient’s family members, the “majority of family members who were aware of participants’ genetic results have not undergone cascade genetic testing or sought cancer screening,” researchers reported.
Germline genetic testing results can inform precision medicine treatments and clinical trial options for patients with prostate cancer, but “understanding the best way to provide actionable and relevant information about genetic testing to family members remains a challenge,” the authors concluded.