More Women and Men Should be Assessed for BRCA Mutations

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Bob Hallinan

Executive Producer

Office: (913) 588-7284

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           More women should be assessed for harmful mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can increase risk of certain cancers, according to new recommendations published in the medical journal JAMA. Previously, it was recommended for women who have a family history of breast, ovarian, tubal or peritoneal cancer to be assessed for harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

The new recommendation for this risk assessment includes women who personally have been diagnosed with breast, ovarian or tubal cancer in the past but completed treatment and are considered "cancer free," and those who have certain ancestries associated with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations, such as being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. Women with positive results on the primary care risk assessment are then recommended to receive genetic counseling and possibly genetic testing for the mutations.

Dr. Lauren Nye is a breast oncologist at The University of Kansas Cancer Center. In the video, she talks about the different types of cancer that should prompt a talk about having genetic testing…cancers like breast, ovarian, prostate or pancreatic. She says the cost of genetic testing has come way down, from several thousands of dollars to usually a few hundred…and is often covered by insurance. She advises not using one of the home test kits that are common these days, but instead to see a certified genetic counselor. And she talks about the “Knowles effect,” referring to the father of singer Beyoncé. He recently discovered he has breast cancer, and Dr. Nye hopes this prompts more men to be tested for the disease.