Genetically high-risk cancer sufferers are not being correctly tested, says study

26 July 2011

Health research in the US suggests a disparity in understanding on the part of medical professionals over genetically high-risk cancer patients and the level of treatment they may require.

Published yesterday (July 25th) in Cancer, the journal of the American Cancer Society, medical scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta found that professionals are, on average, failing to recommend cancer screening to women who are more at risk of the disease but are correspondingly recommending it more to people who are less at risk.

The study focused specifically on breast and ovarian type cancers which can be triggered through mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene.

Dr Katrina Trivers, one of the authors of the study, explained the research's findings. She said: "Despite the existence of evidence-based guidelines on referral for genetic counselling and testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, many physicians report practices contrary to these recommendations."

The findings highlight potential flashpoints for cancer diagnosis and treatment in British hospitals, as recent studies from Cancer Research UK showed an increase of 20 per cent in diagnoses in a generation.

Posted by Philip Briggs.

1 Goff, Barbara A. et al. "How are symptoms of ovarian cancer managed? A study of primary care physicians." Cancer: Journal of the American Cancer Society. Advanced copy published Monday August 1st 2011.

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