BRCA testing delay during the COVID-19 pandemic: How to act?

Angelo Minucci, Giovanni Scambia, Maria De Bonis, Elisa De Paolis, Concetta Santonocito, Anna Fagotti, Ettore Capoluongo, Paola Concolino, Andrea Urbani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Recently, our lab, part of a referral center in Italy, reported its experience regarding the execution of germline BRCA1/2 (gBRCA) testing during the first months of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, which highlights a substantial reduction (about 60%) compared with the first 2 months of the current year. This evidence appeared to be a lockdown effect due to extraordinary restriction measures to slow down the spread of SARS-CoV-2. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the overall effects of the ongoing pandemic on gBRCA testing in our institution and to understand how COVID-19 has influenced testing after the complete lockdown (March 8–May 5, 2020). Additionally, we compared this year’s trend with trends of the last 3 years to better monitor gBRCA testing progress. This detailed analysis highlights two important findings: (1) gBRCA testing did not increase significantly after the lockdown period (May–October 2020) compared with the lockdown period (March–April 2020), emphasizing that even after the lockdown period testing remained low. (2) Comparing the total tests per year (January–October 2017, 2018, 2019, with 2020), the impact of COVID-19 on gBRCA testing is apparent, with similarities of trends registered in 2017. These evidences reveal a gBRCA testing delay for cancer patients and healthy patients at this moment, and the new era of gBRCA testing in the management of ovarian, breast, pancreas and prostate cancer patients has been seriously questioned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As consequence, we underline that measures to guarantee oncogenetic testing (e.g., gBRCA testing) along with new diagnostic/clinic strategies are mandatory. For these reasons, several proposals are presented in this study.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
DOIs
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2020

Keywords

  • BRCA genes
  • Coronavirus disease 2019
  • COVID-19 pandemic in Italy
  • Germline BRCA testing
  • Tumor BRCA testing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics

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