Pathogenic mutations have been identified in approximately 10 percent of patients who present with breast cancer. Notably, failure to identify deleterious genetic mutations has particular implications for patients undergoing abdominally based breast reconstruction, as the donor site can be used only once. The authors sought to determine: (1) how many patients underwent genetic testing before unilateral abdominally based free flap breast reconstruction; (2) how often deleterious mutations were detected after abdominally based free flap breast reconstruction; and (3) the cost-effectiveness of expanding genetic testing in this patient population.
The authors retrospectively identified all patients who underwent unilateral abdominally based free flap breast reconstruction at Brigham and Women’s Hospital/Dana-Farber Cancer Institute between 2007 and 2016. Chart review was performed to collect relevant demographic and clinical data. Relevant hospital financial data were obtained.
Of the 713 who underwent free flap breast reconstruction, 160 patients met inclusion criteria, and mean follow-up was 5.8 years. Three patients (1.9 percent of 160) underwent contralateral surgery after completing reconstruction, two of whom had BRCA2 and one with ATM mutation. One hundred eleven patients met National Comprehensive Cancer Network guidelines for genetic testing, but of those only 55.9 percent (62 patients) were tested. Financial data revealed that testing every patient in the cohort would result in a net savings of $262,000.
During a relatively short follow-up period, a small percentage of patients were diagnosed with pathogenic mutations and underwent contralateral mastectomy and reconstruction. However, because of the costliness of surgery and the decreased cost of genetic testing, it is cost-effective to test every patient before unilateral abdominally based free flap breast reconstruction.