Women with history of breast, ovarian cancer should be assessed for BRCA gene mutations


SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – For the first time, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force said all women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer should be assessed for increased risk for BRCA gene mutations.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is an advising body for primary care doctors.

In 2013, it was recommended for women who have a family history of cancers to be assessed for harmful BRCA gene mutations but now, the task force is changing its recommendations to have all women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer and women of different ethnicity associated with BRCA gene mutations undergo testing.

The goal of cancer genetic testing is to identify individuals who have a greater risk of cancer so they can begin to develop strategies to hopefully prevent cancer altogether.

Dr. Grace Makari-Judon, professor of medicine at Baystate Regional Cancer Program, told 22News, “The strategies depend on the type of cancer that we are trying to prevent. So there are surgical strategies, there are strategies in terms of watching people more closely, more imaging, and there are also strategies of risk-reducing medication.”

Even though breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women, BCRA 1 and BCRA2 mutations are actually rare.

The mutations only occur in an estimated one of every 300 people. That’s why the task force recommends against testing for women with no family history or ancestry associated with BCRA gene mutations.

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