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Personalized medicine can cut breast cancer risk
Date:2/15/2008

The time has come for breast cancer risk assessment, counseling and genetic testing to move from cancer specialists to the realm of primary care, according to a presentation at the AAAS annual meeting, held this year in Boston.

"A growing body of evidence has documented the benefits of preventive measures for high-risk women including those with mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes," said Funmi Olopade, MD, the Walter L Palmer Distinguished Service professor of medicine and director of the Cancer Risk Clinic at the University of Chicago Medical Center. "Referral for cancer-risk assessment and BRCA testing in the primary care setting is a necessary next step towards personalized medicine for women at risk for breast cancer."

Most high-risk women present in the primary care setting, she said. Primary care physicians should learn about the genetics of cancer risk, take a comprehensive personal and family history and advise patients who appear to be at increased risk about the plusses, minuses and limitations of genetic testing and risk-reduction strategies.

Physicians now have enough information to help patients understand the consequences of genetic testing, she added. Studies have found that genetic counseling and testing do not cause adverse psychological effects. There is convincing data on the risk reduction associated with prophylactic surgeryremoval of the breasts and or ovaries to prevent cancer in those with known mutations. And preventive measures for those at risk now extend beyond pre-emptive surgery to intensive screening and chemoprevention.

"More than ten years after BRCA1 and BRCA2 were identified as major breast and ovarian cancer susceptibility genes," Olopade added, "primary care providers should embrace genetic risk assessment and BRCA mutation testing."

There is still a great deal that we don't know about these cancer-causing mutations, she added. The frequency and impact of BRCA1 and BRCA2
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Contact: John Easton
john.easton@uchospitals.edu
773-702-6241
University of Chicago Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert  

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