Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Predictive risk screening

We have all heard about genetic testing to see if you are more likely to get an ailment or not. I am not sure if I would do that or not simply because I am not sure I want to know. I can look at my family history without a genetic test to get an idea of what I might get. Oh, but there were no cases of breast or thyroid cancer in my family....

Actually the vast majority of breast and other cancers are not caused by genetic or family history. They just happen. There are risk factors that are known but the real reason of why someone gets it instead of someone else is not really known. But there is a fear among women regarding getting breast cancer. A lot of women are just scared of it.

So even though we do not have the cause ironed out, a company, BREVAGen, has developed a predictive risk screening test to see if women are more or less likely to get the disease. And they are selling it.

'"The vast majority of women who get breast cancer do not have familial history such as first degree relatives with cancer. For those patients, BREVAGen allows me to make informed decisions based on their individual risk indicators and genetics"... "Determining the appropriate level of surveillance is critical for patient compliance, early cancer detection, and controlling healthcare costs. BREVAGen helps me identify those patients that benefit from a more intensive surveillance. This proactive approach might include breast MRI and/or the use of anti-estrogen medications, coupled with patient lifestyle changes, all focused on the prevention or early detection of breast cancer." 

BREVAGen is a clinically validated predictive risk test that more accurately identifies a woman's unique risk of developing sporadic, estrogen-positive breast cancer. BREVAGen examines a woman's clinical risk factors, such as their lifetime exposure to estrogen, combined with scientifically validated markers to determine each patient's personalized five-year and lifetime risk of developing breast cancer.'

Hmmm... so they are analyzing exposure to risk factors. But that does not give us a cure.This is part of the role personalized medicine plays in helping treat patients. I am completely for personalized medicine but I am not sure what I think a company making money off analysis of risk factors as opposed to finding a cure. Yes this will help in getting the right women early screening and allow for early detection. But does it help prevent cancer?  Not really. Does it help determine the cause of cancer? No. Does it prey on the fears of women who are concerned about developing breast cancer? Possibly.

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