Health Partners: Breast Cancer and Genetics

July 5, 2024

The content below is provided by Myriad Genetics, a sponsor of H4TG’s A Calendar to Live By/Guide to Caring for Yourself.

GENETIC TESTING MATTERS

As medical care becomes more personalized and tailored to each individual, women affected by breast cancer can benefit from an individualized treatment plan by knowing if her cancer has a hereditary component.  

While a variety of factors may contribute to the development of breast cancer, a hereditary cancer test, such as Myriad Genetics’ MyRisk®, analyzes DNA to potentially identify if a change or mutation in her genes contributed to her cancer diagnosis. By knowing if she has a genetic mutation in a hereditary cancer gene, a woman affected by breast cancer can make a more informed treatment plan with her healthcare provider and inform other family members of the potential increased risk of developing cancer. Knowing your status can help both you and your family. 

KNOWING YOUR OPTIONS

For women affected by hereditary breast cancer, there may be an increased risk of breast cancer spreading elsewhere in the body or the development of a new second cancer. This could be a second breast cancer or other related cancers. Surgeons can use their patient's genetic status to help determine which surgery may be most appropriate for the current cancer and to reduce the risk of future cancers. The American Society of Breast Surgeons recommends all women with a diagnosis of breast cancer receive hereditary cancer testing to help with this effort. 

For women affected with breast cancer, hereditary cancer testing results may also help inform if PARP inhibitor therapy may be added to their treatment plans. 

REDUCTION OF RISK FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS

The same hereditary cancer test that can help determine your treatment plan can also help family members without cancer take steps to help prevent breast cancer as well as other cancer types. If you have a mutation in hereditary cancer gene(s), parents, siblings, daughters, sons, aunts, and uncles could have an increased risk of developing cancer at a younger age or multiple cancers.  

By understanding your familial risk, they can take steps to help identify cancer earlier or even potentially prevent a cancer from developing. Even if you did not receive hereditary testing initially, you and your family members may still benefit from the testing after your treatment is finished. Additionally, if your testing was completed many years ago, it is worth talking with your doctor to determine if you may need additional updated testing.  

SOMATIC TESTING

During treatment, a medical oncologist may also order testing on the cancer itself. Testing specifically on the cancer is called somatic testing, such as Myriad Genetics' Precise™ Tumor, and only looks at changes or mutations in the cells developed by the cancer and can be used for treatment decision. Somatic mutations exist within the tumor only and therefore cannot be passed to children.

For more information on understanding risk for you and your family members visit Myriad.com

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