Category: Community Health, Health Magazine, Teaching & Research

Title:MRI makes a difference

A recently published modeling analysis provides a clear direction for physicians attempting to advise women with ATM, CHEK2, and PALB2 genes, which increase risk of breast cancer and are collectively as prevalent as the much-reported BRCA1/2 gene mutations.

For women with these genetic changes, annual MRI screenings starting at ages 30 to 35 may reduce breast cancer mortality by more than 50%.

Researchers at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center collaborated with the Cancer Intervention and Surveillance Modeling Network (CISNET),
the Cancer Risk Estimates Related to Susceptibility (CARRIERS) consortium, and the Breast Cancer Surveillance Consortium.

Using established simulation models, the researchers input age-specific risk estimates provided by CARRIERS and recently published data involving more than 32,000 breast cancer patients and a similar number of patients without cancer.

“Modeling is a powerful tool to synthesize and extend clinical trial and national cohort data to estimate the benefits and harms of different cancer control strategies at population levels,” said Jeanne Mandelblatt, MD, MPH, a professor at Georgetown Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center and a senior author of the paper published earlier this year in JAMA Oncology.

To realize the benefit of cancer screening guidelines based on genetic susceptibility, a woman would need to know she carries an implicated gene variant before receiving a disease diagnosis. More often it’s the case that a genetic test panel is administered after someone tests positive for cancer—too late to be of preventive value for the patient, but potentially lifesaving for blood relatives who could seek genetic testing.

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