A Third of Breast Cancer Patients Concerned About Genetic Risk

“A new study from the University of Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center finds that many women diagnosed with breast cancer are concerned about the genetic risk of developing other cancers themselves or of a loved one developing cancer.

“Overall, 35 percent of women with breast cancer expressed a strong desire for genetic testing, but 43 percent of those women did not have a relevant discussion with a health care professional. The study also found that racial minority patients with a strong desire for testing were less likely than white patients to discuss it with a professional, even though studies show that minority patients are not at lower risk for these mutations.

” ‘Our findings suggest a marked unmet need for discussion about genetic risk,’ says study author Reshma Jagsi, M.D., D.Phil., associate professor of radiation oncology at the University of Michigan Medical School.

“About 5 percent to 10 percent of breast cancer patients have an inherited genetic mutation that drives their cancer. Many of the women who reported interest in genetic testing were at low risk of having a mutation and doctors would not typically discuss genetic risk with them.”