Initial survey results of Utah’s hereditary cancer genetics professionals reveal what features are most important when selecting a laboratory

Nov 5, 2020 | News

In October 2020, the Center for Genomic Interpretation (CGI) and the Association for Utah Genetic Counselors (AUG) conducted a survey of clinical cancer genetic counselors in the state of Utah. The survey aimed to understand which hereditary cancer genetic testing labs are used by Utah clinicians and which laboratory features are most important. This work was done as part of the “Quality Matters” project led by the Center for Genomic Interpretation, in partnership with the Association for Utah Genetic Counselors. The project is supported in part by the Utah Cancer Genomics Program of the Utah Department of Health, with funding from the CDC.* 

The survey was sent to 26 genetic counselors in Utah who counsel patients undergoing testing for hereditary cancer syndromes. CGI and AUG received 21 completed surveys, for a 81% response rate. The responses represented the three major cancer healthcare networks in Utah (Intermountain Healthcare, Huntsman Cancer Institute, and MountainStar Healthcare) as well as genetic counselors at the Genomic Medicine Service at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). This broad range of responses provide an in-depth look at local Utah genetic counselor thoughts and opinions, along with an important glimpse at data from the VA genetic counselors who, though located in Utah, see patients nationwide via telehealth.

The survey data revealed that an accurate test result is the most important feature in selecting laboratories. Genetic counselors also indicated the need for additional information from laboratories surrounding the decisions about variant classification and gene selection, which are critical factors impacting the accuracy of a test result. The survey results reflected that genetic counselors are more than willing to educate and partner with other healthcare providers in providing high quality of care that meets the needs of patients undergoing testing for hereditary cancer syndromes like BRCA1/2 and/or Lynch syndrome. 

*This project is supported by Cooperative Agreement Number, DP19-1905, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the Department of Health and Human Services.