Personalized Medicine Can Cut Breast Cancer Risk
Reported February 20, 2008
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — A leading cancer risk expert says its time for breast cancer assessment, counseling and genetic testing to become part of primary care.
Funmi Olopade, M.D., Walther L. Palmer Distinguished Service professor of medicine at Chicago Medical Center, says physicians now have enough information to help patients understand the consequences of genetic testing. Referral for cancer-risk assessment and BRCA testing in the primary care setting is a necessary step towards personalized medicine for women at risk for breast cancer.
Inherited mutations in the tumor suppressing genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 are currently the most powerful predictors of breast cancer. Dr. Olapade believes that primary care physicians should learn about the genetics of cancer risk, take a comprehensive history from patients and advise those who could be at risk about genetic testing and risk-reduction strategies.
Studies have shown that genetic counseling and testing do not cause adverse psychological effects. There is evidence that risk reduction is associated with breast or ovary removal in patients with the BRCA1 or 2 mutations. And now there are other preventive measures that include intensive screening and chemoprevention.
Dr. Olapade adds that there is still a lot we dont know about these cancer-causing mutations. The frequency and impact in various ethnic groups is not well understood and conflicting results also cloud the picture. As a result many ethnic groups under use genetic testing. In addition, scientists are still finding new mutations of BRCA1 and BRAC2. We do know that mutation of these genes is common in families with hereditary breast cancer and among young women with breast cancer, Dr. Olapade was quoted as saying. Our goal is to make this knowledge more and more available to patients and that has to begin in the primary care setting. Only then can we hope to reap the benefits of individualized medicine,
SOURCE: The American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting, Feb. 14 – 18, in Boston, Mass.