Genetic testing's role in breast and ovarian cancer
Breast and ovarian cancer are two forms of the disease that can often be predicted based on genetic markers. If a woman’s mother had ovarian cancer, or if a woman has several close relatives who had breast cancer, then they would be considered patients with a history of cancer. In patients who fit these criteria, genetic testing is likely to reveal whether or not the patient has the same genetic mutation that developed into cancer in one or more of their relatives. Like sickle cell anemia, the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations which can result in breast or ovarian cancer can be hereditary. Therefore, if patient knows that she has relatives who suffered from cancer due to one of these mutations, genetic testing can be especially helpful. Since genetic testing is accessible and can be so important for women with BRCA mutations, you’d think that most women with a history of breast or ovarian cancer would undergo testing. Unfortunately, based on the findings of a recent study, too few at risk women are getting these tests.