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Genetic counselling and personalised risk assessment in the Australian pancreatic cancer screening program


Background: Pancreatic cancer (PC) is an aggressive disease with a dismal 5-year survival rate. Surveillance of high-risk individuals is hoped to improve survival outcomes by detection of precursor lesions or early-stage malignancy. Methods: Since 2011, a national high-risk cohort recruited through St Vincent's Hospital, Sydney, has undergone prospective PC screening incorporating annual endoscopic ultrasound, formal genetic counselling and mutation analysis as appropriate. PancPRO, a Bayesian PC risk assessment model, was used to estimate 5-year and lifetime PC risks for familial pancreatic cancer (FPC) participants and this was compared to their perceived chance of pancreatic and other cancers. Genetic counselling guidelines were developed to improve consistency. Follow-up questionnaires were used to assess the role of genetic counselling and testing. Results: We describe the Australian PC screening program design and recruitment strategy and the results of the first 102 individuals who have completed at least one-year of follow-up. Seventy-nine participants met the FPC criteria (>/= two first-degree relatives affected), 22 individuals had both a BRCA2 pathogenic variant and a close relative with PC and one had a clinical diagnosis of Peutz-Jeghers syndrome. Participants reported a high perceived chance of developing PC regardless of their genetic testing status. PancPRO reported FPC participants' mean 5-year and lifetime PC risks as 1.81% (range 0.2-3.2%) and 10.17% (range 2.4-14.4%), respectively. Participants' perceived PC chance did not correlate with their PancPRO 5-year (r = - 0.17, p = 0.128) and lifetime PC risks (r = 0.19, p = 0.091). Two-thirds felt that current genetic testing would help them, and 91% of tested participants were glad to have undergone genetic testing. Overall, 79% of participants found genetic counselling to be helpful, and 88% reported they would recommend counselling to their relatives. Conclusions: Participants reported multiple benefits of genetic counselling and testing but continue to seek greater clarification about their individual PC risk. Extension of PancPRO is required to enable personalised PC risk assessment for all high-risk sub-groups. More detailed discussion of PC risk for BRCA2 pathogenic variant carriers, providing a written summary in all cases and a plan for genetics review were identified as areas for improvement.

Type Journal
ISBN 1731-2302 (Print) 1731-2302
Authors Dwarte, T.; McKay, S.; Johns, A.; Tucker, K.; Spigelman, A. D.; Williams, D.; Stoita, A.
Responsible Garvan Author Amber Johns
Publisher Name Hereditary Cancer in Clinical Practice
Published Date 2019-10-23
Published Volume 17
Published Pages 30
Status Always Electronic
DOI 10.1186/s13053-019-0129-1
URL link to publisher's version