New Study Recommends Genetic Testing for All Breast Cancer Patients

CLIVE, Iowa -- A new study says current guidelines for genetic breast cancer testing may be too restrictive and lead to missed cases.

The Journal of Clinical Oncology study genetically tested 1,000 women diagnosed with breast cancer and the results showed that 9 percent had genetic traits linked to breast cancer.

Dr. Richard Deming, Medical Director at Mercy Cancer Center, said genetic testing has developed to the point that it can even change treatment for patients depending on results.

"The treatment may actually be different for a woman who has a genetic abnormality than for a woman who doesn't. And also the screening for other cancers may be different. So if you have a genetic abnormality that predisposes you to breast cancer, you also may have a higher risk for uterine cancer, ovarian cancer or colon cancer," Dr. Deming said.

Of that 9 percent of women in the study who did have a genetic abnormality, 45 met the current genetic testing requirements and 38 of them did not.

So those 38 women wouldn't have initially had genetic testing done.

One breast cancer survivor said she didn't need to have the testing done, but chose to after she beat cancer.

"We have two children, two sons and I wanted just the piece of mind. And also I spoke to them about it too and they felt that would be a good idea to get the genetic testing so that they had an idea if that is something they need to be really concerned about," Poon Tigges, a breast cancer survivor, said.

The study ultimately recommended that all patients diagnosed with breast cancer have genetic testing done, but Deming said that probably wouldn't be possible right away because it is expensive, but also because there aren't enough genetic counselors in the United States to get it done both accurately and efficiently.

If you're not sure if you are eligible for genetic testing, it's always best to ask your doctor and talk about your options.

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