Why is Genetic Testing Important for Women with Ovarian, Breast Cancer? Who should get tested?
Experts say it’s important for women with ovarian and breast cancer to get tested. Yet, less than one-third ovarian cancer patients and less than a quarter breast cancer patients had genetic testing for cancer-associated mutations.
Between 8 and 15 percent of women with breast or ovarian cancer carry cancer-associated mutations that could be used to drive care decisions and influence family members’ healthcare and screening choices.
Testing guidelines for women with ovarian cancer differ from those with breast cancer. All women with epithelial ovarian carcinoma should undergo genetic counseling and be offered testing.
Some of the guidelines for testing people with breast cancer include family history of pancreatic, prostate, ovarian, or other breast cancers.
Why does genetic testing matter?
Genetic testing is important for breast cancer, but for women with ovarian cancer it can have a huge impact on survival. The results of genetic tests help provide information about prognosis, guide treatment, and affect future screening decisions. For family members, genetic testing results can provide an individual with an opportunity to save their own life or provide true relief of the burden of assuming they will get cancer. Eventually, we should be testing people before they ever develop cancer — it could be a great opportunity for prevention.
Barriers to testing
Cost is no longer an impediment. The tests were much more expensive earlier. People were more likely to find it unaffordable. Now it costs much less, there are more labs and it is possible to test additional genes. Aside from cost there may be other factors keeping women from testing, such as time constraints and fear of the results.