Multi gene panel testing for hereditary breast cancer - is it ready to be used?
Breast cancer is one of the most common malignancies and the leading cause of death among women worldwide. About 20% of breast cancers are hereditary. Approximately 30% of the mutations have remained negative after testing BRCA1/2 even in families with a Mendelian inheritance pattern for breast cancer. Additional non-BRCA genes have been identified as predisposing for breast cancer. Multi gene panel testing tries to cover and explain the BRCA negative inherited breast cancer, improving efficiency, speed and costs of the breast cancer screening.
We identified 23 studies reporting results from individuals who have undergone multi gene panel testing for hereditary breast cancer and noticed a prevalence of 1-12% of non-BRCA genes, but also a high level of variants of uncertain significance.
A result with a high level of variants of uncertain significance is likely to be more costly than bring benefits, as well as increase the anxiety for patients. Regarding further development of multi gene panel testing, more research is required to establish both the optimal care of patients with cancer (specific treatments like PARP inhibitors) and the management of unaffected individuals (chemoprevention and/or prophylactic surgeries). Early detection in these patients as well as prophylactic measures will significantly increase the chance of survival. Therefore, multi gene panel testing is not yet ready to be used outside clear guidelines. In conclusion, studies on additional cohorts will be needed to better define the real prevalence, penetrance and the variants of these genes, as well as to describe clear evidence-based guidelines for these patients.