Five Things Friday: Why Genetic Testing?

Why the Importance of Genetic

Testing  for Women with Breast Cancer


Women who have been diagnosed with certain types of breast cancer may benefit from seeing a genetics expert and having genetic testing to see if they have an inherited mutation that caused their cancer.

Women with breast cancer and any of the following should consult with an expert about genetic testing:

  1. Breast cancer of any type (including ductal carcinoma in situ or DCIS) diagnosed before age 50 
  2. Breast cancer in both breasts or a second breast cancer in the same breast
  3. Triple-negative (ER-/PR-/Her2-) breast cancer before age 60
  4. Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ethnicity
  5. Relatives with breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate or melanoma cancer

Breast cancer survivors who have any of the above factors and had a negative genetic test before 2014 should speak with a genetic counselor to see if additional testing is right for them. Genetic testing has improved since then and new tests can find mutations that were previously missed by older tests.

Why Test?

Genetic test results may provide you and your family with additional health information and help you make medical decisions.

  • for people with metastatic breast cancer, genetic testing can determine if you may benefit from a drug called Lynparza, which is FDA approved for treating advanced breast cancer in people with a BRCA mutation
  • test results may affect cancer treatment decisions such as choice of surgery or chemotherapy
  • test results may affect eligibility for certain clinical trials and research studies
  • results can help women understand their risk for additional cancers to guide medical decisions about risk management
  • test results can help relatives understand their risk for cancer and take actions to stay healthy.

Additional support and resources

If you are a breast cancer survivor making decisions about genetic testing, you may want additional guidance or support. FORCE’s Peer Navigation Program provides expert reviewed resources and 1:1 personalized peer support by specially trained volunteers who have experienced the very challenges you face.

Updated 01/12/2018

Article taken from FORCE: 

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