FORCE’s XRAYS program, funded by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), serves as a reliable source of information for young breast cancer survivors and high-risk women, helping them navigate the complex world of breast cancer research-related news and information. We review the latest research and media articles for accuracy and relevancy in order to improve health outcomes through education and understanding. Learn more about how we review articles and studies here.
Over the past eleven months, we’ve looked at 47 studies reported on in the media. The following are our most widely read reviews. Here’s why they’ve had such a big impact.
No. 1: What “The Truth About Cancer” Got Wrong About BRCA Mutations and Cancer
What it’s about: In November, 2015, the website thetruthaboutcancer.com released the nine-part documentary series “The Truth About Cancer: A Global Quest”. The video referenced Angelina Jolie’s decision to remove her breasts after learning that she carried a mutation in the BRCA1 gene. One commentator in the video called her decision “barbaric”. Others said she had made this decision out of fear. The video and the points of view of the commentators therein spread widely through social media, but after reviewing the videos, we found that they contained a lot of dangerous misinformation about BRCA mutations and inherited cancer. Our review explained where the documentary series went wrong and laid out the real science behind how genes, genetic mutations and environmental factors affect a person’s cancer risk.
Why You Should Read It: Many in the hereditary cancer community asked us to respond to this video and the dangerous misinformation it spread about BRCA mutations and cancer risk. While FORCE endorses healthy lifestyle choices, we also want to assure people facing hereditary cancer are reading the most recent, expert-reviewed, information on cancer risk management.
No. 2: Is Breast Cancer Risk Increased in BRCA-Mutation Negative Women?
What it’s about: In 2013, several news outlets — including The Huffington Post, Medical News Today and Fox News — reported on an article published by researchers at the University of Manchester and other institutions that examined whether women who tested negative for a familial BRCA mutation were at increased risk for breast cancer. To do this, the researchers studied women who did not carry a BRCA mutation but came from BRCA-positive families to see if their breast cancer risk was similar to women in the general population. While the researchers found that women who tested negative for their familial BRCA2 mutation were almost five times more likely to develop breast cancer than expected for an average-risk woman of the same age, we concluded that more research needs to be done to understand the real risk that BRCA-mutation negative women from BRCA-positive families face.
Why You Should Read It: This XRAYS article is the most recent in a series of articles looking at the question of breast cancer risk in women who test negative for the BRCA mutation in their family. This study shows that women from families with BRCA mutations and a strong family history of breast cancer should discuss whether or not increased breast cancer screening is an option for them. It is important to remember that breast cancer is relatively common, so BRCA negative women will have a 1 in 8 chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime.
No. 3: New Research May Lead to a Blood Test That Detects Breast Cancer Recurrence Earlier
What it’s About: Last year, headlines in major news publications announced a blood test that can potentially predict which breast cancer survivors are at risk of recurrence. The blood test, sometimes called a “liquid biopsy,” is one of many being developed. While the early research suggests it may be a promising technique, this blood test is not yet available to breast cancer survivors.
Why You Should Read It: Blood tests that screen for cancer, sometimes called “liquid biopsies,” are an active area of research. While these are not currently part of regular screening, there are several clinical trials available to cancer survivors and people at high risk for cancer.