New Benefits of Genetic Testing

The relationship between genetic testing and breast cancer has been mostly focused on the prevention of cancer; however, recent advancements in treatment are now using genetic tests to personalize cancer therapy.

Genetic testing can be used as a tool to help prevent cancer by finding patients who have a higher risk for developing it. Once a genetic mutation that is known to increase a person’s risk for cancer is found, the doctor and their patient can work on a plan to lower the risk for developing cancer or increase screening to find it early. For example, if a patient is found to have a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes, their provider may recommend an annual breast MRI or prophylactic surgery. It is also important to test for these same genes even if a person already has cancer, as the information can be used to take measures that lower the risk of developing a second cancer. Since these genetic mutations run in families, genetic testing is commonly done to help caution other family members who may be at a higher risk for getting cancer.

Recently, researchers have found a new way to use the information from genetic tests. Genetics can now play a role in helping a doctor decide what the best drugs are to treat each patient. A new group of drugs called PARP inhibitors work best on patients who have a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes. Over the last few years this has been shown to work very well in treating ovarian cancer. Now a clinical trial called OlympiAD has shown that PARP inhibitors also work for patients with metastatic breast cancer with a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.1

The OlympiAD trial compared a PARP inhibitor called Lynparza® (olaparib) to chemotherapy. Patients had to have metastatic (i.e. stage IV) breast cancer with a BRCA mutation and be HER2-negative. The results of this study showed that Lynparza® (olaparib) lowered the risk of the disease growing or death by 42% compared to chemotherapy. Additionally, patients on Lynparza® (olaparib) experienced less side effects and improved quality of life.1,2,3

For many years genetic testing has been used to help prevent cancer for patients and their families; now it also helps personalize cancer therapy. Speak with your doctor to learn more about what test is best for you.

 

Learn more about Myriad’s genetic tests

 

Sources

  1. Robson et al. Olaparib for Metastatic Breast Cancer in Patients with a Germline BRCA Mutation. N Engl J Med (2017). 10.1056/NEJMoa1706450
  2. For more detailed information about Lynparza and its safety and efficacy please go to lynparza.com
  3. Lynparza® (olaparib) is not approved by the FDA for this indication

Lynparza is a registered trademark of the AstraZeneca group of companies.