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Genetic Linkage

Breast Cancer Genetic Testing for All Women?

"I have no family history of breast cancer," says the woman in a public service announcement stressing the importance of mammograms for all women.


"No one in my family had breast cancer. Not one. But I start chemo next week," says the woman in another PSA.


Unfortunately, people paying only partial attention, as we tend to do these days, might come away with the earworm "family history – cancer," and perpetuate the misunderstanding that breast cancer only happens to people with a family history of it. That's simply not true, but the health care community apparently hasn't caught up.


A recently-published study in JAMA Oncology reports the number of lives saved among a large group of women diagnosed with breast cancer who had testing for three genetic risk (susceptibility) genes, even if they have no affected relatives. Might testing all women – not just those who already have breast cancer or have relatives with it – save lives as well? I think so.


To continue reading, go to my DNA Science blog at Public Library of Science, where this post first appeared.

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