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Genetic testing all women for breast cancer might not be worth the cost.

Women who are carriers of mutated BRCA genes are known to have a significantly higher risk for developing breast and ovarian cancers than those who are not. But a new study by UCLA researchers questions the value of screening for the genetic mutations in the general population--including those who do not have cancer or have no family history of the disease--because of the high cost. The researchers found that compared with universal screening, other diagnostic tools remain more efficient and might be more cost-effective.

A viewpoint piece, published in JAMA Oncology, was authored by Patricia Ganz, MD, and Elisa Long, PhD. They concluded the BRCA genetic test that is most widely used today, which sells for about $4,000, is too expensive to warrant universal screening, given how rare BRCA mutations are in women.

Long and Ganz calculated that for every 10,000 women screened, BRCA screening could avert four cases of breast cancer and two cases of ovarian cancer more than family history-based testing. But the BRCA screening would only extend patients' life by an average of two days. For 99.75 percent of women screened, a negative genetic test offers no increase in life expectancy, nor would it eliminate the need for regular mammograms, and it could provide false reassurance that a woman is not at risk for breast cancer.

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Title Annotation:Cancer
Publication:Medical Laboratory Observer
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2015
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