Genetic Testing for Cancer
A genetic test can tell if a person has a higher risk of developing cancer than most people. When a genetic test is done in an asymptomatic person to predict future risk of a disease, it is called predictive genetic testing. Predictive genetic testing can be helpful in a way that if there is a positive result, a person can start taking steps to reduce the risk of developing cancer by making lifestyle changes and doing regular cancer screening tests.
Breast Cancer Genetic Risk
If you have close relatives with breast or ovarian cancer, you may be at a higher risk for developing these diseases. BRCA1 & BRCA2 arethe most commonly affected genes, though inherited mutations in other genes can also cause breast and ovarian cancer. Not everyone with inherited mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will get breast or ovarian cancer. Breast cancer is much more common in women than men, but men with BRCA1 & BRCA2 mutations are more likely to be affected with breast cancer than other men.
Who should consider BRCA gene testing?
· A personal history of breast cancer diagnosed at or before 45 years of age.
· A personal history of breast cancer diagnosed at or before 50 years of age along with an additional breast cancer primary, 1 or more relatives with breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer or an unknown family history of cancers.
· Triple negative breast cancer diagnosed at or before 60 years of age.
· A personal history of ovarian cancer.
· A personal history of male breast cancer.
· Diagnosed with breast cancer at any age and having 2 or more relatives with breast cancer, pancreatic cancer or prostate cancer at any age.
· Male breast cancer in family members.
· Ethnicity associated with higher mutation frequency.
BRCA Genes & Treatment
A class of drugs called PARP inhibitors can arrest the growth of cancer cells that have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 variants. PARP inhibitors like Olaparib (most widely used), Rucaparib, Niraparib and Talazoparib have been approved by FDA to treat certain cancers having harmful variants in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.