A Breast Radiology Department-operated, Proactive Same-day Program Identifies Pathogenic Breast Cancer Mutations in Unaffected Women

Published:December 16, 2020DOI:

      Rationale and Objectives

      Pathogenic mutations in some genes elevate women's breast cancer risk, necessitating risk-reduction strategies. Unfortunately, women are underscreened for cancer risk, and when identified as potentially high risk, women seldom pursue genetic counseling or testing. To improve cancer risk management, this project determined the feasibility of radiology-operated, proactive, same-day risk assessment and genetic testing programs to diagnose high-risk women undergoing breast imaging.

      Materials and Methods

      The Comprehensive Assessment, Risk & Education Program launched on June 5, 2019. Data was tracked through July 22, 2020. Women undergoing breast imaging completed questionnaires that calculated Tyrer-Cuzick risk and assessed genetic testing eligibility using National Comprehensive Cancer Network criteria. To encourage eligible women's genetic testing adherence, pretest counseling and saliva sample collection occurred that same day in the imaging center. Samples were tested by a 34-multigene panel. Genetic counselors called women with positive results. Women with negative results or variants of uncertain significance were mailed notifications. Summary statistics were calculated.


      A total of 3345 women completed questionnaires. 1080 (32.3%) met genetic testing criteria. 468/1080 (43.3%) submitted genetic samples, and 416/1080 (38.5%) completed testing. Of 416 completed tests, 269 (64.7%) tested negative, 109 (26.2%) had variants of uncertain significance, and 38 (9.1%) diagnosed pathogenic mutations. 13/38 (34.2%) women with pathogenic mutations implemented risk-reduction strategies at our institution.


      Breast imaging centers can operate same-day cancer risk assessment and genetic testing programs, identifying high-risk women that conventional risk assessment methods may not have diagnosed. These proactive programs add value to radiology departments’ cancer care beyond traditional imaging services.

      Key Words


      CARE (Comprehensive Assessment Risk & Education), MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), NCCN (National Comprehensive Cancer Network), PCPs (Primary care providers), TC (Tyrer-Cuzick), VUS (Variant of uncertain significance)
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