Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Are You At Risk of the BRCA Mutation?

The good news on BRCA screening is that the U.S. Supreme Court's decision to ban gene patenting opens the field up to more competition. And more competition means lower prices.  Already, costs have been reduced from 20 percent to more than 40 percent from before the decision last June, according to several industry reps I talked to today at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.  Ideally, competition will also lead to better quality, with reduced errors such as false positives.

If you have not taken the test to determine whether you are at risk of the BRCA mutation, there's an easy start online, the hereditary cancer quiz.  Risk factors for the BRCA mutations include:
  • Ashkenazi Jewish women with one first degree relative or two second degree relatives on the same side of the family with breast or ovarian cancer
  • Non-Ashkenazi Jewish women who have:
    • two first-degree relatives who had breast cancer; at least one of these two were diagnosed before age 50;
    • three or more first- or second-degree relatives with breast cancer regardless of age at diagnosis;
    • a combination of both breast and ovarian cancer among first- and second-degree relatives;
    • a first-degree relative with bilateral breast cancer;
    • a combination of two or more first- or second- degree relatives with ovarian cancer, regardless of age at diagnosis;
    • a first- or second- degree relative with both breast and ovarian cancer at any age; or
    • a history of breast cancer in a male relative
If you might be at risk, check with your doctor.  Tests are now covered by insurance.

Read more about TNBC in my book, Surviving Triple-Negative Breast Cancer.

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