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