Komen® Colorado Advises Caution When Using Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Test

Susan G. Komen® Colorado and Invision Sally Jobe Advise Caution When Considering
Direct-to-Consumer Breast Cancer Genetic Mutation Tests

FDA Approves First BRCA 1/2 Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing 

DENVER – March 13, 2018 – Komen Colorado and Invision Sally Jobe say the March 6 U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval of a direct-to-consumer test for a breast cancer genetic mutation gives some consumers another tool to identify their specific risk for breast cancer.

The test, offered by the personal genetics company 23andMe, identifies three specific BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations that can lead to a higher risk of breast cancer in Ashkenazi Jews (Jewish people of Eastern European descent) in the U.S. Read the FDA press release here.

Komen Colorado CEO Dianne Primavera said this direct-to-consumer test will, at the least, allow people to begin the conversation about their breast cancer risk, and it could provide valuable information into someone’s level of risk.

“Genetic testing is a very personal choice,” Primavera said. “It is often covered by insurance, but if a person doesn’t have insurance, this testing may be a good starting place to determine genetic risk.”

Susan G. Komen cautioned the 23andMe test results should not be used to determine a treatment plan without consultation by a qualified healthcare provider, as well as additional testing from another lab. Genetic testing is a complex process, and seeing a genetic counselor remains a critical step for people considering this kind of testing.

It’s important to note that unless someone is of Jewish ancestry, the 23andMe BRCA 1/2 test serves little function.

Mary Freivogel is a certified genetic counselor at Invision Sally Jobe, in Denver. Freivogel also is past president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She said people should proceed with caution when using this service.

“One thing I want people to think about is how prepared you are for this information,” Freivogel said. “You test positive for this, and all of the sudden you have this set of heavy decisions on your lap. You have to think about family dynamics among relatives who share your genes. You have to be prepared to share this information with your family…including the sister you haven’t talked to in ten years. A genetic counselor can help people sort through such possibilities before testing.”

About 1 in 40 Ashkenazi Jews test positive for a BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation in the U.S., compared with about 1 in 400 among the general population. The mutation is present in about 10 percent of Ashkenazi Jews diagnosed with breast cancer.

Understanding and addressing breast cancer risk can lead to medical decisions that could save lives, and it plays a role in Komen’s Bold Goal: to reduce current U.S. breast cancer deaths by 50 percent by 2026.

Komen provides extensive information about breast cancer gene mutations, including who should consider testing, the benefits and risks of testing, the importance of genetic counseling, as well as other consideration on its website, komen.org, at the following link: https://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/GeneMutationsampGeneticTesting.html

About Susan G. Komen Colorado®

Denver-based Susan G. Komen® Colorado has invested nearly than $42.7 million into 126 Colorado-based non-profit health clinics, hospitals and community-based organizations to provide life-saving breast cancer care to those in need in 22 counties (Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Clear Creek, Denver, Douglas, Eagle, Garfield, Gilpin, Jefferson, Larimer, Logan, Morgan, Park, Phillips, Pitkin, Sedgwick, Summit, Washington, Weld, and Yuma). Komen Colorado’s local investments have provided Coloradans with more than:

  • 39,537 clinical breast exams
  • 54,759 mammograms
  • 27,523 diagnostic tests that diagnosed more than 650 breast cancers
  • 2,122 treatment services (surgery, chemotherapy, radiation)

In addition, the organization has raised nearly $15.6 million for ground-breaking research to understand risk-factors for the disease, treatment protocols, how the disease metastasizes, and evidence-based interventions to increase survivorship. Learn more at www.komencolorado.org.

About Invision Sally Jobe

Invision Sally Jobe is metropolitan Denver’s premiere provider of outpatient imaging services and the leader in women’s breast imaging for more than 50 years. As a partnership between the physicians of Radiology Imaging Associates, PC and HealthOne, Invision Sally Jobe is the only outpatient imaging provider in the state of Colorado that offers genetic consultation to consumers with certified genetic counselors as a service.