We had a great presentation by Patty Tenofsky, MD, a surgeon with Via Christi Clinic, on the topic of breast cancer genetic testing at the October Women’s Connection luncheon at Botanica.
Dr. Tenofsky explained that the incidence of breast cancer is relatively low for most people.
In the U.S., there are 200,000 cases of breast cancer per year. That’s 10-13 percent lifetime risk of developing breast cancer if you’re a woman.
According to Dr. Tenofsky, the two most important risk factors for breast cancer are being a woman and getting older.
There are approximately 25,000 cases of ovarian cancer per year which gives a lifetime risk of less than 2 percent.
Dr. Tenofsky explained that the vast majority of breast cancers will occur in women who have no family history of breast cancer and are not linked to heredity or genetics. These nonhereditary cancers are called Sporadic Breast Cancers and are the most common type of breast cancer. The risk of breast cancer increases as a woman ages. It’s less likely to occur before age 50. If you live to age 90, then your risk of developing breast cancer is 1 in 8 or about 13 percent even with no family history. Therefore, ALL women over age 40 should be screened for breast cancer with mammograms, even if they have no family history.
Twenty-five percent of woman will develop breast cancer with a family history, but there is no known genetic abnormality.
Only 10 percent will develop breast cancer with a mutation of the BRCA gene — it’s rare.
The official name of the BRCA mutation is the Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome. The syndrome is characterized by a significantly increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer, but it is RARE: only 1 in 800 people will have it. But, it’s more common if you have a Jewish background. Most cases are caused by a mutation in the BRCA 1 or 2 gene.
Dr. Tenofsky then discussed the characteristics of the gene, testing and treatment options.
You can see Dr. Tenofsky’s full presentation below.