Inherited predisposition to breast cancer is explained only in part by mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Most families with an apparent familial clustering of breast cancer who are investigated through Australia's network of genetic services and familial cancer centres do not have mutations in either of these genes. More recently, additional breast cancer predisposition genes, such as PALB2, have been identified. New genetic technology allows a panel of multiple genes to be tested for mutations in a single test. This enables more women and their families to have risk assessment and risk management, in a preventive approach to predictable breast cancer. Predictive testing for a known family-specific mutation in a breast cancer predisposition gene provides personalised risk assessment and evidence-based risk management. Breast cancer predisposition gene panel tests have a greater diagnostic yield than conventional testing of only the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The clinical validity and utility of some of the putative breast cancer predisposition genes is not yet clear. Ethical issues warrant consideration, as multiple gene panel testing has the potential to identify secondary findings not originally sought by the test requested. Multiple gene panel tests may provide an affordable and effective way to investigate the heritability of breast cancer.
The Medical journal of Australia. 2016 Mar 21 [Epub]
Ingrid Winship, Melissa C Southey