BRCA testing in a genomic diagnostics referral center during the COVID-19 pandemic

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The first person-to-person transmission of the 2019-novel coronavirus in Italy on 21 February 2020 led to an infection chain that represents one of the largest known COVID-19 outbreaks outside Asia. Hospitals have been forced to reorganized their units in response to prepare for an unforeseen healthcare emergency. In this context, our laboratory (Molecular and Genomic Diagnostics Unit, Fondazione Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli IRCCS) re-modulated its priorities by temporarily interrupting most of the molecular tests guaranteeing only those considered “urgent” and not postponable. In particular, this paper details changes regarding the execution of germline BRCA (gBRCA) testing in our laboratory. A substantial reduction in gBRCA testing (about 60%) compared to the first 2 months of the current year was registered, but the requests have not been reset. The requesting physicians were mainly gynaecologists and oncologists. These evidences further emphasize the new era of gBRCA testing in the management of cancer patients and confirms definitively the integration of gBRCA testing/Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) into clinical oncology. Finally, a re-organization of gBRCA testing in our Unit, mainly related to delayed and reduced arrival of tests was necessary, ensuring, however, a high-quality standard and reliability, mandatory for gBRCA testing in a clinical setting.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4857-4860
Number of pages4
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2020


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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