Benefits and Complexities of More Breast Cancer Genes to Screen For

Dr-Allison W. Kurian

Dr. Kurian Interview with:
Allison W. Kurian, M.D., M.Sc.

Associate Professor of Medicine (Oncology) and of Health Research and Policy
Director, Women’s Clinical Cancer Genetics Program
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, CA 94305-5405 What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Changes in genetic sequencing technology and regulation have allowed much cheaper testing of many more genes in recent years. We investigated how these changes have affected hereditary cancer risk evaluation in women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.

The main findings are that more comprehensive multiple-gene sequencing tests have rapidly replaced more limited tests of two genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2) only. This has helped patients by doubling the chance of finding an important gene mutation that can change their treatment options.

However, there are important gaps in how this new, more comprehensive sequencing is used: more testing delays and more uncertain results, particularly among racial/ethnic minority women. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work? 

Response: Next steps should include new care delivery models for cancer genetic counseling and testing to reduce delay, and focused efforts to resolve uncertain results that disproportionately burden racial/ethnic minority patients. 

Disclosures: Research funding to Stanford University for an unrelated project was provided to me by Myriad Genetics.


Kurian AW, Ward KC, Hamilton AS, et al. Uptake, Results, and Outcomes of Germline Multiple-Gene Sequencing After Diagnosis of Breast Cancer. JAMA Oncol. Published online May 10, 2018. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2018.0644 

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Last Updated on May 12, 2018 by Marie Benz MD FAAD