Is Routine Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Risk Advisable — Even at $249?

Is Routine Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Risk Advisable — Even at $249?
Actress, celebrity, and philanthropist Angelina Jolie's public revelation in 2013 that she had undergone a prophylactic double-mastectomy, even though she had no breast cancer, gave huge popular awareness to genetic testing for potential cancer susceptibility. In Jolie's case, testing revealed that she carries a defective gene, BRCA1, which doctors told her increased her estimated risk of developing breast cancer to 87 percent, and also increased her risk factor for ovarian cancer. The Jolie example resulted in many more women seeking gene testing for BRCA1 or the related BRCA2 gene, notwithstanding that only some 29 percent of cancers in women originate in the breast, and 5 to 10 percent of women carry high-risk single genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins that help repair damaged DNA, therefore playing a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material. When either of these genes is mutated, or altered, so that its protein product either is not made or does not function correctly, DNA damage may not be repaired properly, resulting in the cells being more likely to develop additional genetic alterations that can lead to cancer. In 2013, the financial cost of having BRCA testing conducted was substantial, typically in the $3,000 to $4,000 range. However, the Silicon colorlogo
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