A hot topic in research is the study of the link between different kinds of cancer and people’s genetic profiles. A key impact this work will have is on helping people whose genetic profiles indicate that they’re at a higher risk of certain cancers, including breast cancer, and poorer cancer outcomes.
A recent article from Forbes cites oncologist Dr. Lucy Langer of the US Oncology Network Genetic Risk Evaluation and Testing Program (G.R.E.A.T.) on a new genetic test that looks for certain patterns of genes that could be used to further refine the estimate of women’s lifetime risk of breast cancer.
Currently, breast MRIs are recommended to women who have at least a roughly 20%-25% lifetime risk of breast cancer; they’re recommended in addition to mammograms. Women with a less than 15% lifetime risk aren’t recommended for breast MRIs. But what about women who fall in the intermediate range? Should they get a breast MRI?
Specific genetic tests may be able to help answer that. Even if a woman’s overall risk is intermediate and not high, if she has a certain genetic makeup it may be beneficial for her to get a breast MRI, as it could improve her long-term chances of survival.
Some of the issues raised by this research include the following:
- When determining what sort of preventative screenings to get, there’s always a costs versus benefits analysis that need to be made by the patient and her physician. New genetic tests could be another powerful tool in making predictions of disease progression and helping patients determine what sort of screenings are best for them.
- Although there are general guidelines for patients, every patient’s preventative regimen and treatment course ultimately needs to be individualized. Women should be able to talk with their doctors candidly about all of their risk factors and make informed decisions based on them.
If you have further questions about breast MRI and whether they’d benefit you, be sure to contact us. We stay current with the latest research and are on hand to answer your questions thoroughly and patiently.