Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Genetic Research, Ovarian Cancer / 22.07.2020 Interview with: Prof Ranjit Manchanda MD, MRCOG, PhD Professor of Gynaecological Oncology & Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist NHS Innovation Accelerator (NIA) Fellow Integrated Academic Training Programme Director London Specialty School of Obstetrics & Gynaecology, Health Education England Specialty Research Lead for Gynaecological Cancer, NIHR, North Thames Clinical Research Network Cancer Research UK, Barts Centre | Queen Mary University of London Centre for Cancer Prevention, Wolfson Institute of Preventive Medicine | Charterhouse Square | London Department of Gynaecological Oncology | Barts Health NHS Trust, Royal London Hospital What is the background for this study? Response: Around 10–20% of ovarian cancers and 6% breast cancers overall are caused by inheritable BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations. Women carrying BRCA1/BRCA2 mutations have a 17–44% risk of ovarian cancer and 69–72% risk of breast cancer until age 80 years. Most of these cancers can be prevented in unaffected BRCA1/BRCA2 women carriers. Women can opt for a range of options including screening, preventive, and reproductive choices to minimise their risk. The current approach uses established clinical-criteria/family-history (FH) based a priori BRCA probability thresholds to identify high-risk individuals eligible for BRCA testing. However, this requires individuals and health practitioners to recognise and act on a significant FH. BRCA carriers, who are unaware of their FH, unappreciative of its risk/significance, not proactive in seeking advice, or lack a strong FH (small families/paternal inheritance/chance) get excluded. Over 50% BRCA carriers do not fulfil clinical criteria and are missed. Despite >25 years of BRCA testing and effective mechanisms for prevention, current guidelines and access to testing pathways remain complex and associated with a massive under-utilisation of genetic testing. Only 20% of eligible women have accessed/undergone genetic testing and our earlier analysis showed that 97% of BRCA carriers in the population remain unidentified. Current detection rates are inadequate to identify all BRCA carriers and even doubling detection rates will not work. Why should we wait for decades for people to develop cancer before identifying BRCA carriers and unaffected at-risk family members to offer prevention?. This highlights substantial missed opportunities for early detection and prevention. A new population testing approach can change this. Jewish population studies show this is feasible, acceptable, has high satisfaction (91–95%), significantly reduces anxiety, doesn’t harm psychological well-being or quality of life, and is extremely cost-effective. However, this has not been evaluated in the general population and in particular across different  countries or health systems. The potential applicability and scope for this approach transcends continents and countries. Additionally, for interventions to be sustainable, they need to be cost-effective and affordable. We have undertaken a cost-effectiveness analysis of population based BRCA testing compared with current standard clinical testing of women designated as high risk, across high income countries (UK/USA/Netherlands), upper-middle income countries (China/Brazil), and low-middle income country (India). (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Cancer Research, Genetic Research, JAMA, Ovarian Cancer, USPSTF / 28.08.2019 Interview with: Dr. Carol Mangione, M.D., M.S.P.H., F.A.C.P. Division Chief of General Internal Medicine and Health Services Research Professor of Medicine Barbara A. Levey, MD, and Gerald S. Levey, MD, endowed chair in Medicine David Geffen School of Medicine University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Professor of public health at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: Every year, too many American women are faced with the challenge of dealing with a cancer diagnosis related to potentially harmful mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.  However, the Task Force found that there are several steps women can take to determine if they’re potentially at increased risk for BRCA gene mutations – and if genetic counseling and BRCA testing are needed. It is important to note that while some women can benefit from risk assessment, counseling, and testing, these services are not for everyone. (more…)
ASCO, Author Interviews, Cancer Research, Genetic Research / 18.05.2017 Interview with: Roy Mano, MD and David Margel, MD, PhD Department of Urology, Rabin Medical Center Petach Tikva, Israel What is the background for this study? Response: According to previous reports, male BRCA mutation carriers have a higher risk of developing malignancies of the prostate, pancreas, breast, colon and melanoma. While malignancy screening protocols for female BRCA carriers are well established and widely implemented, little is known about the optimal screening protocol for male BRCA carriers, and current screening protocols focus on malignancies of the breast and prostate rather than offer a comprehensive screening protocol for all BRCA associated malignancies. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, Genetic Research, University Texas / 24.03.2017 Interview with: Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Center for Interdisciplinary Research in Women’s Health University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston TX What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: BRCA testing in patients diagnosed with early-onset breast or ovarian cancer can identify women with high-risk mutations, which can guide treatment. Women who learn they have a high-risk mutation may also want to inform family members that they may also carry a high-risk mutation. Additionally, BRCA testing can be used to identify high-risk mutation carriers before they develop breast or ovarian cancer. Carriers can then manage their cancer risks with screening (MRI/mammogram), chemoprevention, or prophylactic surgery. Current guidelines recommend BRCA testing for individuals who are considered high-risk for breast or ovarian cancer based on personal or family history.  However, this practice fails to identify most BRCA mutation carriers. It is estimated that more than 90% of mutation carriers have not been identified. One of the issues is that many women who do get tested are actually low-risk and do not have any personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer. This study assessed how BRCA testing was used in the US health care system during the past decade. We found that in 2004 most of the tests (75.7%) were performed in patients who had been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer. Only 24.3% of tests were performed in unaffected women. However, since 2006, the proportion of BRCA tests performed in unaffected women has increased sharply, with over 60% of the tests performed in unaffected women in 2014. (more…)
AACR, Author Interviews, Biomarkers, Cancer Research / 22.04.2015

Dr. Timothy Yap MD, PhD Timothy Yap, MD, PhD, NIHR BRC The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust London, United Interview with: Timothy Yap, MD, PhD, NIHR BRC The Institute of Cancer Research and The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust London, United Kingdom. Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Yap: This is a novel phase I trial assessing for the first time if the PARP inhibitor olaparib can be combined with the AKT inhibitor AZD5363. The study was undertaken at the Royal Marsden and The Institute of Cancer Research in London, England. This targeted combination was based on strong preclinical rationale demonstrating synergy between both drugs in BRCA positive tumors and also antitumor activity in non-BRCA positive tumors. Although olaparib was recently approved by the FDA for treating advanced ovarian cancer associated with defective BRCA genes, antitumor efficacy in different non-BRCA tumors is yet to be established. The key finding for this study was that it was indeed possible to combine both drugs safely, with multiple patients with different cancers responding, including patients with and without BRCA1/2 mutations. We also assessed a new intrapatient dose escalation phase I trial design in this study, and demonstrated that the novel design could be successfully implemented, with completion of the dose escalation phase in 2 schedules of the combination with just 20 patients in 7.5 months. (more…)
Author Interviews, Breast Cancer, JNCI / 21.12.2014 Interview with: Dr Ranjit Manchanda Consultant Gynaecological Oncologist, St Bartholomew’s Hospital, London, UK Honorary Sr Lecturer, Women’s Cancer, EGA Institute for Women's Health, University College London, UK  and Professor Ian Jacobs Vice President, The University of Manchester Dean & Head School of Medicine Faculty of Medical & Human Sciences, Director MAHSC (Manchester Academic Health Science Centre) Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Dr. Jacobs:  Background- Women carrying a BRCA1/2 gene alteration have a very high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer and men carrying this alteration have an increased risk of prostate and breast cancer. Approximately 45-65% women who have this inherited genetic change will develop breast cancer and 15-35% ovarian cancer. They also have a 50% chance of passing these genes on to their children. At risk individuals can access available options of screening and prevention through the National Health Service (NHS). Some population groups across the world are known to have a higher frequency of BRCA 1/2 gene alterations than others. One example is Ashkenazi Jews who have a 1 in 40 likelihood of having a BRCA1/2 gene alteration. This is 10-20 times higher than in the general non-Jewish population. At present in the UK, genetic testing is available within the NHS to individuals who have a strong family history of cancer. However, many people are not aware of their family history or its significance and do not seek advice. Many other individuals with BRCA1/2 gene alterations do not have a family history at all. The current approach misses a large number of people at risk who could benefit from knowing about their BRCA 1/2 mutation status and the ability to access opportunities for prevention or screening. In order to address this the GCaPPS study has investigated the best method of screening for risk of inherited (familial) cancer by exploring the alternative approach of offering the genetic test to all men and women >18 years in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. It does so by comparing the benefits and disadvantages of: (i) The current system of testing only those with a family history and (ii) The new option of testing everyone in the population. Main Findings: Over half of the BRCA1/BRCA2 carriers detected did not give a strong family history of cancer and would not have been identified by current family history based testing criteria used in the NHS (National Health Service) in the UK and most health systems internationally. Reassuringly population-based genetic testing in Ashkenazi Jews did not adversely affect short term psychological health or quality-of-life. A health economic analysis indicated that population-based screening for BRCA-mutations in Ashkenazi Jewish women ≥30years would be highly cost-effective compared to the traditional family history based approach. Such an approach if implemented could reduce the incidence of and deaths from breast and ovarian cancer as well as reducing cost and save the NHS funds. (more…)