Great News about Genetic Testing!

The genetic test that Angelina Jolie had done that normally runs between $3000 or $4000 will become much cheaper very soon.  The United States Supreme Court has ruled that human genes are not patentable.  This means that the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes that predispose to breast cancer will no longer be monopolized by one company who can charge thousands of dollars for the test, but rather it will be open to competition from other genetic marker companies. You can expect over the next few months that the price will descend thousands of dollars to a few hundred dollars for this test.  At the same time, other less known genetic defects will be tested for in a panel of genetic abnormalities. If you are worried that you have a genetic predisposition for breast cancer...

Is Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy the best option when you have the BRCA 1 genetic defect?

This is a complex issue. On the one hand, removing both breasts with simple mastectomies and reconstructions will probably reduce the chances of getting breast cancer in woman with this defect from somewhere between 50% and 80% to about 5%.  However, the timing of the occurrence of breast cancer may be many years down the road.  For instance, if you are 35 years old and have this defect, the chances of getting cancer by 70 may be very high, but the chances in the next 15 years are much less.  By doing frequent testing of the breasts using ultrasound or MRI there’s a high likelihood of finding the cancer when it is small, if it were to occur.  For a woman who has an MRI once a year and a breast ultrasound six months later, the chances of having invasive...