Angelina Jolie published an editorial in the New York Times in 2013 about her choice to have a double mastectomy after finding out she was positive for a BRCA1 mutation. Researchers from a recent study claim that her celebrity endorsement of BRCA testing may have missed its target audience (previvors), due to the increase in BRCA testing following publication of the editorial but a decrease in the number of mastectomies performed. However, the study failed to take into account that many women without breast cancer do not pursue mastectomy in the months following genetic testing. (1/4/17)
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is a consortium of experts in cancer and genetics. They publish consensus guidelines for genetic testing for inherited mutations that increase cancer risk. Their guidelines for genetic testing for people diagnosed with breast cancer include:
For people with HER2-negative, metastatic breast cancer, NCCN recommends BRCA testing before starting on chemotherapy to see if there may be benefit from treatment with a PARP inhibitor.
According to NCCN, cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling is highly recommended before genetic testing is offered (pre-test counseling) and after results are disclosed (post-test counseling). A genetic counselor, medical geneticist, oncologist, surgeon, oncology nurse, or other health professional with expertise and experience in cancer genetics should be involved early in the counseling of patients.
FORCE is a national nonprofit organization, established in 1999. Our mission is to improve the lives of individuals and families affected by adult hereditary cancers.