New Guidelines on Risk, Genetic Counseling & Testing for BRCA-related Cancer

(December 30, 2013)   The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (Task Force) has issued a final recommendation statement on Risk Assessment, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Testing for BRCA-related Cancer in Women. This final recommendation statement applies to women who have no signs or symptoms of a BRCA-related cancer (cancer of the breast, ovary, fallopian tube, or peritoneum). The Task Force reviewed recent research studies on risk assessment, genetic counseling, genetic testing, and treatments aimed at reducing the risk for BRCA-related cancers in women.

The final recommendation statement summarizes what the Task Force learned about the potential benefits and harms of this multi-step process:

  1. Women who have family members with breast, ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer should be screened to see if their history is associated with an increased risk of carrying a BRCA mutation. If it is, women should get in-depth genetic counseling to review their family history and determine whether BRCA testing would be useful. If testing would be useful, women should receive genetic testing for BRCA mutations.
  2. Women whose family history is not associated with increased risk for BRCA mutations should not have routine genetic counseling or BRCA testing.

Click here to read a patient-friendly summary of these recommendations.