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Breast Cancer & Genes: Assessing Risk

Study Questions Accuracy of Genetic Risk Models Used to Determine Testing

Understanding the Limitations

Cancer geneticist and gynecologist Noah D. Kauff, MD, of Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, agrees.

"We have to understand the models and their limitations if we are going to use them," he says. "They likely still have a role in helping us identify patients who would benefit from genetic testing, but it is important that they are not used in isolation."

Breast cancer patients with BRCA mutations are generally treated more aggressively; they are at increased risk for another breast cancer and ovarian cancer.

The American Cancer Society now recommends annual breast screening with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) along with mammography for high-risk women, as determined by existing family-risk models.

Kauff tells WebMD that the recommendation illustrates the importance of finding better ways to identify women at increased risk.

"If these models are incomplete for testing, they are obviously incomplete for making decisions about who should be screened and treated," he says.

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