The landscape of genetic testing for cancer susceptibility is changing rapidly. Today, testing via a cancer gene panel is commonplace. However, the size and clinical utility of those panels is expanding. It is important for you, with the help of your physician, to carefully consider which option is best for you. Panels can be as small as only including those breast cancer causing genes with associated management guidelines or as large as 80+ genes. The larger panels are often without clear-cut risk information and management guidelines as the data about specific genes is newly emerging.
The year 2020 will likely include dramatic changes both in panel size and technology. It will certainly be the year of new advances in the field of genetic testing. This new technology will improve both detection and interpretation and will be an exciting era for those of us in direct patient care. The soon to be approved testing will provide better sensitivity and clarity for a significant portion of patients with previously identified variants of unknown clinical significance.
Risk assessment models are a tool we use to predict your future risk of breast cancer. One tool has recently been refined and as a result, you will have access to a more personalized medical management plan. Risk assessment models are used on women who have no personal history of breast cancer. One such model, Tyrer-Cuzick version 8, now includes your breast density. A 5-year, 10 year and lifetime risk of breast cancer can be calculated. This provides you and your healthcare team with a valuable tool in navigating the sometimes-complex field of breast imaging and surveillance. If you’re a high risk patient with dense tissue, you are likely eligible for a screening ultrasound and MRI in addition to your yearly screening mammogram.
As always, genetic counseling can help you determine the best personal course of action. Am I candidate for genetic testing? Am I candidate for MRI? I was previously tested, do I need a larger panel? Will my insurance cover genetic testing?
If you have questions, please reach out to our Cancer Risk Assessment and Genetic Counseling office at Elizabeth Wende Breast Care. Our certified genetic counselor, Jessica Salamone and her staff would be happy to assist you. (585) 758-7041.