Genetic Testing for All Older Than 30 Would Prevent Many Ovarian and Breast Cancers, Study Says

Genetic Testing for All Older Than 30 Would Prevent Many Ovarian and Breast Cancers, Study Says
Researchers argue in a new study that all women older than 30 should undergo screening for mutations in established risk genes for breast and ovarian cancer. Such a strategy, they believe, is cost effective and could result in up to 17,000 fewer cases of ovarian cancer, and 64,000 fewer cases of breast cancer, in the U.K. alone, than current guidelines. The study, “Cost-effectiveness of Population-Based BRCA1, BRCA2, RAD51C, RAD51D, BRIP1, PALB2 Mutation Testing in Unselected General Population Women,” was published in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute. The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the most well-known genes linked to both ovarian and breast cancers. Women with mutations in these genes have a 17 to 44 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer, and a 69 to 72 percent chance for breast cancer. Women without these mutations carry a considerably lower risk – 2 percent for ovarian cancer and 12 percent for breast cancer – over their lifetimes. Under current clinical guidelines, only women having a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer undergo genetic testing for mutations linked to those cancers. “However, clinical criteria/FH[family history]-based testing is only moderately effective at identifying mutations and has poor ability to rule out the absence of one,” researchers wrote. “We and others have shown that this approach misses more than 50 percent of mutation carriers,” they added. For women, knowing if they are a carrier of any of such mutations means they can adopt new life habits and undergo prevention strategies, su
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