(JNS.org) The current testing model used to determine who might have the breast cancer gene mutation BRCA needs to be changed, several of the world's leading breast cancer researchers concluded on Sunday at a symposium in Jerusalem sponsored by the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation.
Thirty researchers were brought together by the Soroka Medical Center and the Israel Healthcare Foundation to address whether the Ashkenazi Jewish community—for whom the gene mutation is more prevalent—and the general population should be routinely tested for genetic predisposition to breast cancer.
Current testing for inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 human genes is restricted to individuals with a history of breast cancer. Thus, half of those who could have the BRCA mutation are not being tested.
"We were gratified to hear much agreement among a diverse group of experts from the U.S., Europe, and Israel, all key regions in this issue. We found that if you are in certain groups that not having a family history does not mean that you should not be tested since you might have a cancer-causing mutation. Indeed, testing all Ashkenazi Jews, as an example, finds twice as many people with mutations as testing just those with family histories," said Dr. Larry Norton, medical director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center of Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center in New York City.
“This indicates that the rules for testing need to be changed. It also means that the psychological, medical, and economic consequences of broader testing needs to be evaluated,” said Norton, who also chaired the conference.