At a cost of $199, 23andMe’s DNA test is considerably less expensive than testing in a medical office, which can run into thousands of dollars. Existing customers of 23andMe are expected to have access to the test within the next few weeks.
BRCA gene mutations have been linked to a higher risk of developing breast cancer. While there are more than one thousand known mutations, the DNA test from 23andMe screens for three specific mutations that are found primarily in people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
It’s estimated that one in 40 Ashkenazi Jews has one of the mutations, which results in a 45 to 85 percent chance of women developing breast cancer by the age of 70 as well as a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Men can also carry one of the mutations along with a risk of breast cancer.
How Effective Is Consumer Genetic Testing?
Geneticist Eric Topol of the Scripps Institute cautions that 23andMe’s test is a start, but testing needs to be more comprehensive. Topol adds that, since the test is limited to three mutations, people may get a false sense of security when they are actually carrying other mutations outside the scope of the test.
Could information technology be part of the solution to curing breast cancer? Researchers and healthcare specialists are about to find out as genetic profiles of thousands of cancer patients have been released to the public.
Big data meets cancer research
Results of genomic testing are normally kept confidential and stored within a patient’s file. Early this past March, Ambry Genetics made the contents of their AmbryShare database publicly available at no charge.
The database contains anonymous data obtained from testing of the company’s thousands of breast and ovarian cancer patients. Doctors, researchers and other patients can now access this information in search of genetic patterns.
“Delaying medical progress”
Amber Genetics CEO and founder Charles Dunlop, himself a stage four cancer survivor, issued a statement in conjunction with the data release. In it, he expressed shock that public and private laboratories would withhold such information at the cost of “delaying medical progress” that could end the suffering of other cancer patients.
Not everyone is optimistic about this development. Genetics professor David B. Goldstein of Columbia University told the New York Times he was unsure that this database is enough to make a difference. But one important believer is President Barack Obama, whose administration’s “Precision Medicine Initiative” is working on establishing a database containing genetic and long-term health information for one million Americans.
Genomic testing at Issels®
Genomic testing is just one of the methods we use to develop our non-toxic integrative treatments. Visit our website to view testimonials from patients with breast cancer, leukemia, melanoma and other forms of cancer which have been successfully treated at our immuno-oncology centers.
In 2013, Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie raised public awareness of genetic testing for cancer. Her mother died at the age of 56 after a lengthy battle with cancer, and Ms. Jolie subsequently discovered she carries a gene mutation that is a marker for increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Our non-toxic immunotherapy program takes genetic predisposition toward cancer into account as part of our personalized treatments. Do you have a family history of cancer? Here is what you should know about genetic testing for cancer.
Family history review
Your doctor will begin by constructing a family tree and noting any incidence of cancer to determine possible pattern. In addition to breast, uterine and ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer is another form that is often linked to a single mutation.
Assessment and testing
Once the family tree is complete, a determination will be made as to your personal risk of developing cancer. It’s estimated that between five and 15 percent of cancers are hereditary, but an increased risk is not a guarantee that cancer will develop. Based on the results of the assessment, your doctor may recommend genetic testing.
Any consideration of a serious illness such as cancer will bring up a number of emotions. The genetic testing process includes counseling to help patients deal with the anxiety, guilt and other feelings that may arise.
Your family history, lifestyle and environment are some of the personal factors used to develop our individualized non-toxic immunotherapy program. Visit our website for more information about Issels® and our comprehensive integrative cancer treatment therapies.