Posted 9 months ago

Breast cancer gene mutations easier, cheaper to detect

(3TV/CBS 5) Heidi Goitia Good news in the fight against breast cancer. It’s now easier than ever to find out if you’re at risk of the disease.

This is thanks to tests that can pinpoint dozens of gene mutations.

Local breast surgeon Patricia Clark explained why this is such a game changer for all women, not just those with a family history of breast cancer.

“Now we can run 80 genes, 100 genes very cheaply,” she said. “So, now 80 genes cost $250 and what we found out through the study is 50 percent of women who have genetic mutations – breast cancer and genetic mutations – never met the guidelines to even be tested.”

Until now, genetic testing for breast cancer was reserved for a select few, mostly because of the cost.

Tests used to cost nearly $5000 and only detected a handful of mutations.

On top of that, if you didn’t meet the guidelines, you weren’t tested because insurance companies wouldn’t pay for it.

She said thanks to advances in technology, gene testing is not only cheaper but dozens of genes can now be analyzed.

Clark was part of the study leading up to this.

“So our study proved that with the better technology now that we’re doing multi-panel genes, we’re missing half the patients who have these genetic mutations. That’s huge and that impacts not only their family members, who’s at risk in their family, but it also impacts our treatment because our treatments are now based more on the genetics of the individual tumors,” she said. “It used to be if someone got chemotherapy, if the tumor is over a centimeter they got chemotherapy. Now because of genetic revolutions, a lot of those women won’t need chemotherapy at all.”

Not only easing women’s fear but empowering them as well.

“Now people are able to take much more control of their health,” she said. “They’re able to purchase these tests directly and I think it’s time for doctors to treat their patients like a team member.”

Breast cancer isn’t the only cancer these tests can detect. Dr. Clark has said she has had test results showing melanoma and colon cancer as well.

You can get these tests online or you can ask your doctor to order one for you.

Many of these companies will test family members free of charge if they find a genetic mutation in someone’s panel.

Heidi Goitia is the traffic reporter and fill-in anchor for CBS 5 This Morning weekdays from 4:30-7am.