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BRCA testing–it’s anything but simple

Myriad Genetics is launching a public awareness advertising campaign in Florida to promote testing of a BRCA mutation (AKA the breast cancer gene).

As both a healthcare marketer and a woman with a BRCA mutation, I’m thrilled that they are raising awareness. But I’m equally concerned. I should preface this by saying I haven’t actually seen the advertising materials but I’ve seen some press on the campaign. They quote an OBGYN as saying it’s a simple blood test. Sure it is. Most of these tests are simple but it’s the results that are not in the least bit simple. The article goes on to say: “Although no test is completely reliable, doctors recommend that all women know their BRCA status.”

Does that mean that all women should walk into their Primary Care Physician or OBGYN and take the test? Should women start doing this on their 18th birthday? Yikes. Are these doctor’s equipped to counsel women if they do have the BRCA mutation? Are they able to knowledgeably talk to the women prior to testing to discuss the implications of the test? BRCA is not something to take lightly.

If you have a known BRCA mutation, you have up to an 87% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Genetics Counselors are the people that should be drawing your blood, counseling you and guiding you through the process. They have the knowledge, the training and the time to give you what you need. I only hope that Myriad is making this clear in their advertising. This test is anything but simple.

 

 

 

 

 

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