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Genetic Testing Rates Rising After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

More women are undergoing genetic testing after receiving a positive diagnosis of breast cancer. This finding is encouraging news to researchers who point to the importance of this extra step in the diagnosis process, especially for younger women. While breast cancer can have a number of causes, genetic mutations are quite common. When they happen to be the source of the cancer, their presence may indicate a need for additional and/or different treatment to better safeguard a woman’s health down the road.

A recent study shed light on the rising rate of genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in women diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 40 or younger. Out of nearly 900 women included in the study, all 40 and younger, a total of 780 reported undergoing genetic testing within a year of diagnosis.

Genetic testing to determine the presence or absence of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes can be a very important step in the treatment process, researchers say. These genes not only increase the likelihood for early-onset breast cancer, they can also increase risks for recurrence, ovarian cancer and other related concerns. While the mutation’s presence doesn’t necessarily mean a double mastectomy, for example, is indicated, it can help women make more informed decisions about their care.

It is estimated that 1 out of 8 American women will develop invasive breast cancer of their lifetimes. The best treatment options will depend on the particulars in each case, including staging, aggressiveness and the likelihood of recurrence. The presence of genetic mutations can enhance the risk of cancer being found in the second breast or other locations. Women who are diagnosed with the disease, therefore, are urged to speak with their doctors about genetic testing and all treatment options before determining a treatment path to follow.


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