August 22, 2019

Task Force Recommends Cancer Gene Testing for More Women

On August 20, 2019, the US Preventive Services Task Force recommended that more women be offered genetic testing for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer. The testing seeks to determine whether a woman has mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes; these mutations increase the risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer. The mutated genes appear to cause only 5-10% of breast cancers and 15% of ovarian cancers. However, if a woman knows she carries a mutation, she can evaluate her options for lowering the risk of developing these cancers. Before this recommendation, screening was recommended only for women whose relatives have had BRCA-related cancers. The Task Force published a new report in the Journal of the American Medical Association,  expanding the advice to women who are now cancer-free after being treated for breast or other BRCA-related cancers, and to women with ancestry prone to BRCA mutations, such as  Ashkenazi Jewish women.