Utility of genetic testing for breast cancer risk

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a great opportunity to learn more about how genetics can help in breast cancer risk assessment. Test your knowledge in Victoria's case and see the CME courses and resources below for more information!

Test your knowledge

Victoria is 55 years old and was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50. Victoria underwent lumpectomy followed by radiation and tamoxifen. She is post-menopausal and her uterus and ovaries are intact. 

Victoria's sister also had breast cancer at age 48 and a paternal cousin had ovarian cancer at age 50. Victoria has two daughters in their mid-twenties who are healthy. 

You determine that Victoria's family is at high risk for hereditary cancer susceptibility.

How could genetic testing impact management for this family?

  1. Clarify risk for a future breast cancer
  2. Clarify risk for a future ovarian cancer
  3. Determine whether Victoria's daughters need early surveillance
  4. All of the above

See the answer

The correct answer is 4) All of the above.

All of the answers are benefits of genetic testing. Testing can determine if Victoria is at risk for genetically related cancers for which she is not already being screened. She may need to take action to detect or prevent ovarian cancer. While this patient received tamoxifen and should already be undergoing regular breast surveillance due to her history, genetic testing can further refine risk for a second breast cancer. Additional preventive options such as mastectomy could be offered based on genetic test results. Clarifying risk to relatives is also an important goal of genetic testing. If Victoria is found to have a gene variant associated with hereditary breast cancer, targeted testing could be offered to her daughters and other at-risk relatives. 

See more cases and access the CME course Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer >>

Learn more about the benefits and limitations of testing in the CME course Pretest Decisions & Counseling >>

Learn more

About one in 10 women has a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer that puts her at increased risk of developing these malignancies due to underlying genetic factors. These courses provide opportunities to learn about hereditary breast cancer syndromes, how to use family history to assess risk level, genetic testing, using genetic information to inform management, and communicating with patients about genetic risk.

Genetic testing for breast cancer risk Self-directed, 15-minute online program about evaluating how well a particular genetic test assesses breast cancer risk (clinical validity) and the potential impact of testing on patient outcomes (clinical utility). (free CME available)

Pre-test decisions & counseling Self-directed, 15-minute online program about deciding when and if genetic testing is appropriate, given the clinical and personal context. (free CME available)

Interpreting genetic testing results Self-directed, 15-minute online program about interpreting genetic testing results within a patient’s specific context. (free CME available)

Genetic testing technology Self-directed, 15-minute online program about weighing the benefits, risks, and limitations of different tests within specific patient contexts. (free CME available)

Collecting family history Self-directed, 15-minute online program about asking the right questions to elicit enough information to assess family history disease risk. (free CME available)

Identifying red flags and patterns that increase risk Self-directed, 15-minute online program about identifying genetic red flags and patterns in a family medical history that can help determine if a condition has a significant genetic contribution. (free CME available)

Categorizing cancer risk Self-directed, 15-minute online program that provides opportunity to learn and practice how to analyze family histories and classify the patients' risk into average, increased (or moderate), or high risk for cancer. (free CME available)

Using family history to inform management Self-directed, 15-minute online program about determining appropriate management based on family history risk using available guidelines. (free CME available)

See more breast cancer resources >>