There has been a growing awareness of the potential life saving value of genetic testing for breast cancer ever since well known actress Angelina Jolie went public with her courageous decision to have her breasts and ovaries removed due to her extremely high risk for breast and ovarian cancer as a carrier of the BRCA1 gene. The University of Michigan Health System reported, a third of breast cancer patients are concerned about genetic risk factors.
A survey of breast cancer patients has revealed an unmet need for discussion about genetic testing. A new study at the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center has discovered that many women who are diagnosed with breast cancer are deeply concerned about the genetic risk of developing other cancers themselves. There are also deep concerns about the possibility of a loved one developing cancer.
It was found that overall about 35 percent of women with breast cancer share a strong desire for genetic testing. However, 43 percent of those women did not have a relevant discussion about genetic testing with a health care professional. Reshma Jagsi, M.D. says these findings have suggested a marked unmet need for greater discussion about genetic risk for breast cancer.
This study has been published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology. The goal of this research was to evaluate preferences for and experiences with genetic testing among a diverse group of patients with breast cancer. It was concluded that many patients, particularly minorities, share a strong desire for genetic testing and could benefit from a discussion of this matter to clarify risks. It is felt that clinicians should discuss genetic risk factors even with patients whom they perceive of as being at low risk because this may lessen worry.