Given the higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer in BRCA mutation carriers, should broader screening for the abnormality be implemented?
Although there is much work to be done on the research front, the BRCA story is shaping up as an important development in oncology with the potential to generate novel therapies for notable subsets of patients with cancer as well as new strategies for preventing disease in at-risk populations.
Yet there are many considerations in translating the growing body of scientific knowledge about BRCA mutations into clinical use, and some of these elements are tackled on OncLive. Given the higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer in BRCA mutation carriers, should broader screening for the abnormality be implemented?
This question moved to the front burner recently when Mary-Claire King, PhD, whose research linked the BRCA1 gene to hereditary breast cancer, suggested all women should be screened routinely at about age 30.
Mark E. Robson, MD, discussed the challenges in implementing screening beyond familial and ethnic risk factors at the 32nd Annual Miami Breast Cancer Conference in Miami Beach earlier this year.
His thoughts are captured in our cover story, “Broad BRCA Screening Is Becoming a Thorny Public Health Issue.”
There also is the matter of which patients might be eligible for therapy directed at BRCA-mutated cancers. One impetus moving this discussion forward is the FDA’s approval in December of the PARP inhibitor olaparib—the first in a new class of drugs that is proving to be effective in patients with platinum-resistant ovarian cancer who carry the mutation.
Maurie Markman, MD, our editor-in-chief, discusses some of the intriguing therapeutic implications for BRCA mutation carriers with pancreas and prostate cancers in his column, “BRCA Experience Is Pointing the Way to a New Diagnostic Paradigm.”
As we move forward in this new era of precision medicine in oncology, the themes presented in these discussions surely will be raised in many forms. We consider molecular diagnostics vitally important in cancer care and thus one of our foremost editorial priorities. Please let us know what you would like to learn about these topics and, as always, thank you for reading.