Have You Seen This?
Black and White Breast Cancer Patients Share Knowledge and Attitudes About Genetic Testing
Would my patients consent to have their genetics tested?
May 25, 2022
DELRAY BEACH, FL – According to the National Cancer Institute, Black women have the lowest 5-year survival rate when compared to all other races. Black women have consistently fallen behind White women in survival outcomes and many are attempting to find the reason. Researchers have blamed social determinants, patient-provider relationships, and cancer-related distress as potential reasons for the gap in survival outcome.1 However, new research would like to highlight a potentially more crucial piece of the puzzle – the lack of racially diverse genomic data and unknown differential responses to chemotherapy treatment.
A new study from the University of Pittsburgh published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities wants to reform the thinking of healthcare providers and close the gap of disparities within genetic testing. Before starting a larger parent study focused on symptom phenotype differences, researchers wanted to first understand potential participants’ knowledge and feelings on genetic testing and participating in genetic research. The study sample included an equal proportion of Black and White women with early-stage breast cancer that were receiving treatment from an urban breast care center. The participants underwent an interview process to discuss their feelings on genetic testing and a genetics test to assess their clinical genetics related knowledge.
Overall, “the total score analysis [of the genetics test] resulted in no significant differences between Black and White women’s total and basic factor scores.”1 This means that the genetic literacy within this participant group showed no concerning disparities. To the researchers’ surprise, the interview did reveal only 3 Black participants that expressed their families would have potential distrust with genetic research, potentially because of past medical research misconduct. The study discusses that the actual disparities within genomic research and testing may result from “an assumption by researchers, which may lead to reduced minority recruitment, that Black patients will decline to participate genomic research due to mistrust.”1 The researchers concluded saying that their “findings suggest Black women are open to participation in genomic research…[and] researchers need to actively engage all eligible participants in genetic research.”1
- McCall MK, Ibikunle S, Murphy Y, Hunter K, Rosenzweig MQ. Knowledge and Attitudes About Genetic Testing Among Black and White Women with Breast Cancer. J Racial Ethn Health Disparities. 2021;8(5):1208-1216. doi:10.1007/s40615-020-00878-5