03 Oct Most BRCA Testing Done in Women Already Diagnosed With Breast Cancer
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health
University of Texas Medical Branch
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: The identification of BRCA1/BRCA2 pathogenic variants in women susceptible to breast or ovarian cancer in the 1990s created an opportunity for targeted, individualized cancer prevention. BRCA testing in young women before cancer onset enables early detection of those with increased cancer risk and creates an opportunity to offer life-saving prophylactic procedures and medication.
We used insurance claims data to assess the use of BRCA testing in unaffected young women <40 years of age between 2006 and 2017 and found that BRCA testing among cancer-free women under 40 has more than doubled in recent years. However, only about 25% of all BRCA testing done in 2017 was performed in unaffected young women under 40.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Despite the increase in testing among unaffected women, the majority of women getting BRCA testing are those who already have a breast or ovarian cancer diagnosis. Widespread testing of women who are not diagnosed with these cancers could significantly reduce the number of affected women, as prevention is possible.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Current clinical criteria and practice guidelines for BRCA testing allow for identification of only a small percentage of high-risk variant carriers in the general population. This inhibits equal access to genetic information and prevents carriers from accessing potentially life-saving information and making informed decisions about undertaking preventative care. Future research may look into better approaches to improve identification of carriers before cancer onset and to increase BRCA testing for cancer prevention.
The authors have no conflict interest to disclose.
Guo, F. , Scholl, M. , Fuchs, E. L., Berenson, A. B. and Kuo, Y. (2019), BRCA testing in unaffected young women in the United States, 2006‐2017. Cancer. doi:10.1002/cncr.32536
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