SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
SCHOEMAN, M; APFFELSTAEDT, J P; BAATJES, K and URBAN, M. Implementation of a breast cancer genetic service in South Africa - lessons learned. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2013, vol.103, n.8, pp.529-533. ISSN 2078-5135.
BACKGROUND: Genetic testing for BRCA mutations has been available in the Western Cape of South Africa since 2005, but practical implementation of genetic counselling and testing has been challenging. OBJECTIVE: To describe an approach to breast cancer genetic counselling and testing developed in a resource-constrained environment at Tygerberg Hospital in Cape Town, Western Cape. METHODS: Genetic counselling is offered in a stepwise manner to our diverse patient population, with a focus on affected probands, and subsequent cascade testing. A record review of BRCA testing between 2005 and 2011 was performed. RESULTS: During this period 302 probands received genetic testing, with increasing numbers tested over time. Of 1 520 women treated for breast cancer since 2008, 226 (14.9%) accepted BRCA testing, and 39 tested positive (17.3% of those tested, and 2.6% of all women). Common founder mutations were detected in 11.9% of women (36/302), and comprised 73% (36/49) of mutations detected. Cascade testing increased after 2010: 16 female and 4 male family members of 19 probands accepted testing, with 6 positives being detected. CONCLUSION: A protocol-driven approach focusing on probands, with initial pre-test counselling by primary care staff has proven effective in establishing the service. Involvement of a clinical geneticist/genetic counsellor has permitted more detailed post-test counselling and increased use of cascade testing.