A 44-year-old woman with breast cancer came to see a surgeon to discuss risk-reducing surgical options. Three years earlier, she had also been diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. Now, because of her breast cancer diagnosis, the patient had come from a small, rural community practice to see a surgeon at a large cancer center. During the appointment with the surgeon, the woman mentioned her oncologist at the community practice had ordered genetic testing, but she hadn’t received the results.
Based on the conversation with the patient, it wasn’t clear to the surgeon if genetic testing had been ordered but not performed or if the results simply hadn’t been communicated to the patient. Since there were no genetic test results sent by the patient’s previous oncologist with other records, the surgeon asked a genetic counselor to find out the status of the test. The surgeon was especially interested to see the results because this woman, as an early-onset breast cancer patient, met the National Comprehensive Cancer Network’s guidelines for genetic testing to assess her inherited cancer risk.
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