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Triple-Negative Breast Cancer Patients Should Undergo Genetic Screening

Most patients with triple-negative breast cancer should undergo genetic testing for mutations in known breast cancer predisposition genes, including BRCA1 and BRCA2, a Mayo Clinic-led study has found. The findings come from the largest analysis to date of genetic mutations in this aggressive form of breast cancer. The results of the research appear in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

“Clinicians need to think hard about screening all their triple-negative patients for mutations because there is a lot of value in learning that information, both in terms of the risk of recurrence to the individual and the risk to family members. In addition, there may be very specific therapeutic benefits of knowing if you have a mutation in a particular gene,” says Fergus Couch, Ph.D. (PATH ’97), professor of laboratory medicine and pathology at Mayo Clinic and lead author of the study.

The study found that almost 15 percent of triple-negative breast cancer patients had deleterious (harmful) mutations in predisposition genes. The vast majority of these mutations appeared in genes involved in the repair of DNA damage, suggesting that the origins of triple-negative breast cancer may be different from other forms of the disease. The study also provides evidence in support of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) guidelines for genetic testing of triple-negative breast cancer patients.

Co-authors from Mayo Clinic include, Steven N. Hart, Ph.D. (HSR ’12) , Curtis Olswold, Seth Slettedahl, Emily Hallberg, Jaime I. Davila, Susan L. Slager, Ph.D. (HSR ’01), Celine M. Vachon, Ph.D. (HSR ’99)

The National Institutes of Health, the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and the David F. and Margaret T. Grohne Family Foundation funded the study.

This is an excerpt from a Mayo Clinic news release published on December 1, 2014.

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