Benefits of Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

Last updated date: 10-May-2021

Bumrungrad International Hospital

3 mins read

Everyone does have some risk of developing cancer, and the disease mostly develops by chance. However, some people are genetically predisposed to developing certain cancers. Hereditary cancer is cancer that runs in your family, and could be caused by a change (mutation) in certain genes that are passed down from your mother or father.

Breast cancer is more often hereditary than other cancers. Some women have genetic mutations in certain genes that increases their risk of breast cancer. Genetic testing can be performed to identify mutations in such genes. This could be an option for women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer and certain women at a higher risk for breast cancer such as a family history of breast cancer at a younger age.

What are the benefits of genetic testing for breast cancer?

Breast cancer is a type of cancer with a higher proportion of hereditary causes than other types of cancer. Women with a medium to high risk for breast cancer might benefit from speaking with a genetic specialist who can review the medical conditions and family history in detail, to help decide whether genetic testing is recommended. Our medical geneticists can furthermore provide a full understanding of a concerned woman’s breast cancer risk and describe genetic testing in details.

Who should get genetically tested and when?

Genetic testing is generally done through a blood test. Testing is recommended if there is a family or personal history that indicates an increased risk of breast cancer. Another reason is the personal interest in one's own hereditary predisposition to cancer. Before getting the test, it’s very crucial to understand what genetic testing might or might not tell. Our well-trained geneticists can help explain the benefits and risks as well as limitations of genetic testing, and what the results mean for an affected patient and possibly her relatives.

What happens after the results are received?

The results of genetic testing can sometimes be confusing and complex, which is why it is important to go over them with our genetic specialists. The results are valuable in order to formulate a proper care plan for cancer protection. Depending on the results, appropriate follow-ups, treatments, lifestyle interventions and other preventive measures will be recommended.

How can genetic testing prevent breast cancer?

When it comes to cancer, knowledge is power. Genetic testing is not a diagnostic tool, but it can assist in estimating if there is an increased lifetime risk of breast cancer. Depending on the results, a women who is affected can take the necessary steps to reduce and prevent her breast cancer risk.

Is genetic testing beneficial for patients who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer?

Heredity sometimes appears to be the cause for a cancer, particularly when the same types of cancers run in families. There is a greater risk of recurrence in women who carry certain mutations. Women who are diagnosed with breast cancer greatly benefit from genetic testing to find out if there are genetic causes that increase the risk of recurrence. Thus, genetic testing makes it possible to plan the appropriate follow-up intervals, treatments and interventions.



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