Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Significant under-use of genetic testing for inherited cancers puts health of entire families at risk

Date:
June 7, 2013
Source:
European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG)
Summary:
French researchers who carried out the first-ever national study of the take-up of genetic testing for BRCA1 and 2 and MMR (Lynch syndrome) mutations have found that, although there had been a steady increase in tests performed for the cancer-causing mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, this was not the case with the MMR mutation, where the numbers undergoing the test are still tiny. Only a third of relatives of individuals with either mutation underwent genetic testing themselves.

A new study of the use of genetic testing for cancer-causing mutations in affected families in France has found that its take-up is very low. Professor Pascal Pujol, Head of the Cancer Genetics Department, Montpellier University Hospital, Montpellier, France will tell the annual conference of the European Society of Human Genetics on June 9 that analysis of data from the French National Cancer Institute covering the years 2003 to 2011 showed that, although there had been a steady increase in tests performed for the breast and ovarian cancer-causing mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, this was not the case with the MMR mutation, implicated in Lynch syndrome (a form of colorectal cancer). Only a third of relatives of individuals with either mutation underwent genetic testing themselves.

Related Articles


"Given that such testing can provide many options to enable individuals to manage their cancer risk, it is vital to encourage awareness and acceptance among both the public and medical professionals," he will say. "For example, removal of the ovaries in women over 40 years old who carry a BRCA mutation decreases their overall cancer mortality by 20% and prophylactic mastectomy can reduce the chances of breast cancer in women carrying such a mutation by around 90%. Those who are unwilling to undergo prophylactic surgery can benefit from increased surveillance, with regular MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. For familial colon cancer, screening by colonoscopy has been shown to decrease mortality. It is therefore regrettable that so few people seem to be aware of the benefits of genetic testing in families with a history of breast, ovarian, or colorectal cancer."

Professor Pujol and colleagues from cancer centres across France analysed 240134 consultations and 134652 genetic tests from patients referred for a predisposition to breast or colorectal cancer. They found a substantial increase in tests for BRCA1/2 - from 2095 a year in 2003 to 7393 in 2011 -- but for MMR mutations the increase was tiny -- from 1144 to 1635 a year over the same period.

Mutations in BRCA1/2 genes are thought to be responsible for about 5% of all cases of breast and ovarian cancer. A woman with such a mutation has a risk of up to 87% of having breast cancer before she reaches the age of 80, as opposed to a risk of 8% in the general population. Such cancers are diagnosed at an average age of 43, as opposed to 60 in the general population, and are often more aggressive. In the case of ovarian cancer, a woman carrying a BRCA1 mutation has a risk of ovarian cancer of up to 63%.

Individuals with Lynch syndrome, or hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, have a 45% risk of developing colorectal cancer by the age of 70, and women with the syndrome are at increased risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers.

"While the increase in BRCA testing is encouraging, it is far from optimal. And the uptake of MMR testing for Lynch syndrome -- responsible for 5% of all colorectal cancers -- is frankly disappointing," says Professor Pujol. "And of course, positive test results may have implications for other family members.

"While we have only studied the situation in France, we believe that our findings would be likely to be replicated in many other countries across the world. It is extremely worrying that such a simple test, which has the potential to spare whole families from devastating illness, is being so under-used. We urgently need a major programme of awareness among all those concerned, involving medical education and training, information programmes for patients and their families, public health campaigning, and improved genetic counselling," he will conclude.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG). "Significant under-use of genetic testing for inherited cancers puts health of entire families at risk." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 June 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130607222506.htm>.
European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG). (2013, June 7). Significant under-use of genetic testing for inherited cancers puts health of entire families at risk. ScienceDaily. Retrieved November 23, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130607222506.htm
European Society of Human Genetics (ESHG). "Significant under-use of genetic testing for inherited cancers puts health of entire families at risk." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130607222506.htm (accessed November 23, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Health & Medicine News

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

Ebola-Hit Sierra Leone's Late Cocoa Leaves Bitter Taste

AFP (Nov. 23, 2014) The arable district of Kenema in Sierra Leone -- at the centre of the Ebola outbreak in May -- has been under quarantine for three months as the cocoa harvest comes in. Duration: 01:32 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

WFP: Ebola Risks Heightened Among Women Throughout Africa

AFP (Nov. 21, 2014) Having children has always been a frightening prospect in Sierra Leone, the world's most dangerous place to give birth, but Ebola has presented an alarming new threat for expectant mothers. Duration: 00:37 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Could Your Genes Be The Reason You're Single?

Newsy (Nov. 21, 2014) Researchers in Beijing discovered a gene called 5-HTA1, and carriers are reportedly 20 percent more likely to be single. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

Raw: Paralyzed Marine Walks With Robotic Braces

AP (Nov. 21, 2014) Marine Corps officials say a special operations officer left paralyzed by a sniper's bullet in Afghanistan walked using robotic leg braces in a ceremony to award him a Bronze Star. (Nov. 21) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins