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A new paradigm of genetic testing for hereditary breast/ovarian cancers

Ava Kwong, J W Chen, Vivian Y Shin
Hong Kong Medical Journal, Xianggang Yi Xue za Zhi 2016, 22 (2): 171-7

INTRODUCTION: Genetic risk factors and family history play an important role in breast cancer development. This review aimed to summarise the current genetic testing approach to hereditary breast/ovarian cancer.

METHODS: A systematic literature review was performed by searching the PubMed database. Publications available online until January 2015 that addressed issues related to hereditary breast/ovarian cancer genetic counselling/testing were selected. The search terms used were "familial breast/ovarian cancer", "susceptibility genes", "genetic counselling", and "genetic testing". The data extracted for this review were analysed by the authors, with a focus on genetic testing for hereditary breast/ovarian cancer.

RESULTS: Although a greater proportion of inherited breast/ovarian cancers are due to the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, a number of new genes have emerged as susceptibility candidates, including rare germline mutations in high penetrance genes, such as TP53 and PTEN, and more frequent mutations in moderate/low penetrance genes, such as PALB2, CHEK2 and ATM. Multi-gene testing, if used appropriately, is generally a more cost- and time-effective method than single-gene testing, and may increase the number of patients who can be offered personal surveillance, risk-reduction options, and testing of high-risk family members.

CONCLUSIONS: Recent advances in molecular genetics testing have identified a number of susceptibility genes related to hereditary breast and/or ovarian cancers other than BRCA1 and BRCA2. The introduction of multi-gene testing for hereditary cancer has revolutionised the clinical management of high-risk patients and their families. Individuals with hereditary breast/ovarian cancer will benefit from genetic counselling/testing.


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