Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are linked to a high lifetime risk of breast and other cancers. This study shows that women who know that they have a BRCA mutation before they are diagnosed with breast cancer have improved outcomes including diagnosis at earlier stages and improved overall survival. (10/26/20)
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network is a consortium of experts in cancer and genetics. The group publishes consensus guidelines on genetic testing, risk management and treatment.
NCCN guidelines recommend genetic testing for individuals who have any of the following:
For people with HER2-negative, metastatic breast cancer, the NCCN recommends BRCA testing before starting chemotherapy to see if there may be benefit from treatment with a PARP inhibitor.
According to the 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.
Breast-cancer screening and risk-reduction
For women with increased risk of breast cancer (a lifetime risk for breast cancer of 20 percent or more), NCCN guidelines recommend the following screening:
The NCCN also recommends that people keep a copy of all their test results. (Online patient portals are a great way to access test results.) This can come in handy during a second opinion, if necessary.
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.