Genes and Breast Cancer


Anchor lead: How often are women with breast cancer offered genetic testing? Elizabeth Tracey reports

Only about a third of women with breast cancer were offered genetic screening, a recent study found, but such testing is cost effective. William Nelson, director of the Kimmel Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, says one of the greatest benefits of testing is for the relatives of a woman with the disease. 

Nelson: The real benefit is if you did that by identifying who were carriers of these genes and then doing cascade testing to their progeny who would also be carriers of these genes, where there are opportunities for prophylactic surgery, other accelerated intensified screening, the thought in the US is that we would prevent 9700 breast and ovarian cancer cases and more than 2400 deaths. It does look cost-effective to just offer all women with breast cancer this kind of germ line screening.  :32

Nelson notes that a lack of genetic counselors may hamper efforts to expand genetic testing. At Johns Hopkins, I’m Elizabeth Tracey.