Wednesday, May 29, 2013

More on the breast cancer treatment gap

A few weeks ago I blogged about the breast cancer treatment gap where women who are told they are BRCA positive only have surgical options to lower their risk of breast or ovarian cancer. It turns out this is growing in significance because of genetic testing progress.

This started when Angelina Jolie announced she had a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy because she was BRCA positive. Unless you have been living under a rock you couldn't have missed that story in the news recently.

While many people are supportive of her decision, some are not. Here is an article on the other side of the issue - which shows how some people are not in favor of this type of prophylactic surgery. I think this kind of decision is very personal but unfortunately there are not a lot of options for those with who test for the genetic mutation.

We can also add in the fact that insurers often are reluctant to pay for the tests. Not just the BRCA test but others for Cowden's syndrome or Li-Fraumeni syndrome, both of which are shown to raise risk for breast and other cancers.

Finally, let's top this all off with the fact that University of Alberta researchers have pinpointed markers for sporadic cases of breast cancer - meaning ones without a family history. Or about 80% of all breast cancers could be caused by these markers. They suggest that women with the marker could then proceed with prophylatic options. We know what that means.

So let's add it up:

  • Researchers are finding genetic causes to more cancers.
  • Insurers don't want to pay for genetic tests.
  • The only options for women with the genetic mutations or markers are significant disfiguring surgery with long term complications.

So where does that leave the patients? Over the barrel without a lot of options.


samanth dixan said...

Good work.. and content about the Breast Cancer Prevention is way too good..
Looking forward for more updates

Colorants said...

This is the good information ..

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I started this blog when I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007. Blogging really helped me cope with my cancer and its treatment. Howe...