Gene Screens for All?

Universal BRCA screening doesn’t make economic sense yet.

The cost of BRCA testing would need to drop by 90% for such testing to be cost-effective for the whole population, according to Patricia Ganz, MD, director of the division of cancer prevention and control research at UCLA’s Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, and Elisa Long, PhD, assistant professor at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

For every 10,000 women screened, BRCA screening could avert four cases of breast cancer and two cases of ovarian cancer more than family history-based testing, they point out

The study appeared online in JAMA Oncology.

angelina_jolieThe Angelina Jolie Effect

The actress and advocate penned an Op-Ed in a May 2013 issue of The New York Times, opening up about testing positive for the BRCA1 gene and her decision to undergo a prophylactic mastectomy.

On the day of her announcement, Wikipedia searches for BRCA1 shot up to nearly 30,000, compared with just under 800 searches the day before.

What’s more, 40% more women got tested for the BRCA breast cancer genes, from 350 per week to 500 per week after Jolie came forward.

[Source: AARP’s Public Policy Institute]

BreastCancer_ribbon_COBAll About BRCA

Of the 233,000 breast cancers diagnosed annually in the United States, only 5% to 10% are attributable to mutations in the BRCA genes. Women who have an abnormal BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene (or both) can have up to an 80% risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetimes.

young womanColor Blind

Young black women have a higher frequency of BRCA mutations than previously reported, new research suggests.

Young black women are more likely to have aggressive types of breast cancer compared to non-Hispanic white women, yet the reason for this disparity remains uncertain. To help understand why, researchers from the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla, analyzed the BRCA mutation frequency and family history of 396 black women in Florida who were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer under the age of 50.

They discovered that 12.4% of the participants had mutations in either BRCA1 or BRCA2. More than 40% of those with a mutation had no close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer, which suggests that family history alone may not identify those at risk for carrying a BRCA mutation.

The findings were published online in Cancer.