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Many Oncologists Fail to Discuss Costs of Genomic Testing

About a quarter of oncologists say they rarely, never bring up costs when they discuss genomic testing

FRIDAY, Nov. 1, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Only half of oncologists who discuss genomic testing with patients report that they often discuss the likely costs of testing and related treatments, according to a study published online Nov. 1 in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

K. Robin Yabroff, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Atlanta, and colleagues identified 1,220 oncologists who reported discussing genomic testing with their cancer patients. Associations between oncologist and practice characteristics and the frequency of cost discussion were examined.

The researchers found that 50 percent of oncologists who discussed genomic testing with patients reported often discussing the likely costs of testing and related treatments, while 26.3 and 23.7 percent reported sometimes and never or rarely discussing costs, respectively. The likelihood of having cost discussions sometimes or often versus rarely or never was increased for oncologists with training in genomic testing or working in practices with electronic medical record alerts for genomic tests (odds ratios, 2.09 and 2.22, respectively). Significant correlations for more frequent cost discussions were also seen for treating solid tumors (versus only hematological cancers), using next-generation sequencing gene panel tests, having higher patient volume, and working in practices with higher percentages of patients insured by Medicaid, self-paid, or uninsured.

“In the context of rising costs of cancer care, interventions targeting modifiable physician and practice factors may help increase the frequency of physician-patient cost discussions, contributing to more informed patient decisions and higher-quality cancer care,” the authors write.

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