Beyond BRCA

In recent years, more women with breast cancer have been undergoing tests to detect multiple gene mutations rather than tests uncovering only BRCA gene mutations, a study at Stanford and five other institutions showed.

More than 5,000 women diagnosed with stage-0 to stage-2 breast cancer between 2013 and 2015 were surveyed for the study, and a third of them underwent testing for cancer-associated mutations.

The proportion who had multigene panel testing rose from about 26 percent in 2013 to about 66 percent by mid-2015. The proportion of women having only the testing for BRCA gene mutations dropped from about 74 percent to about 34 percent, according to the study, published May 10 in JAMA Oncology.

Multigene testing can provide better information to patients. Lead author Allison Kurian, MD, associate professor of medicine and of health research and policy, encourages newly diagnosed women to talk to their doctors about genetic testing options.