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Risks for Breast, Ovarian Cancers Could Be Found With Multigene Panel Testing

Greg Kennelty
Published: Thursday, Jul 14, 2016

Allison W. Kurian, MD, MSc

Allison W. Kurian, MD, MSc

In nearly 100,000 patients who were clinically tested for hereditary cancer risk, utilization of multigene panel sequencing was found to detect ovarian cancer-associated mutations in 11 genes, according to results of a study presented at the 2016 ASCO Annual Meeting.1


OncLive: Can you give us an overview of your ongoing study on multigene panel testing?

Kurian: This is an interim report of a clinical trial that we've been doing, and that trial is evaluating a multiple-gene panel test. Instead of the older practice of testing for only one or two genes when people come in with a family history of breast cancer or colon cancer, this is a panel that tests 25 genes. This is quite a few more than we usually test.

Those were the main findings. The caveats are that the follow-up is short at this point; it's only about 3 months follow-up. We're going to follow patients much longer, so really this is an early safety signal at this point and needs further follow-up.

Can you also talk about gene panel testing for possible ovarian cancer risks?

This is a study focused on understanding the level of cancer risk with gene mutations, again using one of these large multiple-gene panels. I think the significance here is that more and more patients are being tested with these panels, and much of the time the genes on the panels are associated with risks that are not really well-defined. For example, we might have a patient who had breast cancer and maybe we find a mutation in a gene like CHEK2 or ATM. We think we're beginning to understand the breast cancer risk, but we really don't know the associated ovarian cancer risks, and that's really important because if the risk is high, this woman should be protected by being offered preventive surgery. So it would really change care.

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