Be cautious about genetic screening


Be cautious about genetic screening

An article, published in today’s News Limited press highlights the risks associated with “do it yourself genetic screening” for breast cancer.

With commercial genetic testing becoming more readily available, and given up to 18 genes can be linked to breast cancer, the Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre warns that the tests create “false red flags”

A Peter Mac study of 4000 women showed only four of the 18 genes — BRCA1, BRCA2, TP53 and PALB2 — were commonly mutated in cancer patients with a strong family history of the disease.

BreastScreen Victoria reminds women that the occurrence of the BRCA 1 and 2 gene is rare, with 5-10% of breast cancer found in women whose families carry a genetic fault. A recent analysis of breast screen data over 20 years of the program revealed that 72% of women diagnosed through BSV had no family history of breast cancer.

Given the greatest risk for developing breast cancer is actually being a woman over 50 years of age, a breast screen once every two years is the best way of monitoring for any change in your breast tissue. Early detection gives women the best chance of successful treatment and recovery.

A link to the study, titled Panel Testing for Familiar Breast Cancer: Calibrating the Tension Between Research and Clinical Care, can be found here.

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