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July 12, 2016 2:46 pm

World’s Leading Breast Cancer Researchers Meet in Israel

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The Komen Pink Lighting Ceremony for breast cancer at the Jerusalem City walls. Photo: The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv via Wikimedia Commons.

The Komen Pink Lighting Ceremony for breast cancer at the Jerusalem City walls. Photo: The US Embassy in Tel Aviv via Wikimedia Commons. – The current testing model used to determine who might have the breast cancer gene mutation (BRCA)  needs to be changed, several of the world’s leading breast cancer researchers concluded on Sunday at a symposium in Jerusalem sponsored by the Cure Breast Cancer Foundation.

Thirty researchers were brought together by the Soroka Medical Center and the Israel Healthcare Foundation to address whether the Ashkenazi Jewish community, within which the gene is more prevalent, and the general population, should be routinely tested for genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

Current testing for inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 human genes is restricted to individuals with a history of breast cancer. Thus, half of those who could have the BRCA mutation are not being tested.

“We were gratified to hear much agreement among a diverse group of experts from the US, Europe and Israel, all key regions in this issue. We found that if you are in certain groups that not having a family history does not mean that you should not be tested since you might have a cancer-causing mutation. Indeed, testing all Ashkenazi Jews, as an example, finds twice as many people with mutations as testing just those with family histories,” said Prof. Larry Norton, MD, medical director of the Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center of Memorial Sloan Kettering Medical Center in New York.

“This indicates that the rules for testing need to be changed. It also means that the psychological, medical and economic consequences of broader testing needs to be evaluated,” said Norton who also chaired the conference.

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