Tests for inherited genetic mutations can provide women diagnosed with ovarian or breast cancer with important information that can have implications for family members and potentially guide treatment decisions and longer-term screening for second cancers. However, many women with ovarian and breast cancers are not receiving these genetic tests, a new study suggests. An NCI-funded analysis of data on more than 83,000 women from large cancer registries in California and Georgia found that, in 2013 and 2014, only about one-quarter of women with breast cancer and one-third of women with ovarian cancer underwent testing for known harmful variants in breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes. The study also found that among patients who did receive genetic testing, 8% of breast cancer patients and 15% of ovarian cancer patients had “actionable” gene variants, meaning variants that might warrant changes in treatment, screening, and risk-reduction strategies. The findings, published April 9, 2019, in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, were surprising, especially the low rate of testing among women with ovarian cancerExit Disclaimer, said lead author Allison Kurian, M.D., M.Sc., of Stanford University School of Medicine. “Genetic testing has become quite cheap and accessible, and this study includes a time period when it was becoming much cheaper, so it’s striking that we still see low rates of testing,” Dr. Kurian said. “I think that suggests that there are most likely other barriers outside of cost.” The study also revealed racial and socioeconomic disparities in testing rates among women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Genetic testing rates were far lower for black women than for white women, and they were also lower for uninsured patients than for insured patients. “These findings have uncovered a [disparities] gap that is much more substantial than I would have thought,” Dr. Kurian said.