HealthDay News — According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, BRCA testing has shifted from being primarily used in cancer patients to being used in unaffected women.

Fangjian Guo, MD, PhD, from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, and colleagues retrospectively analyzed the Clinformatics Data Mart Database of 53,254 adult women with insurance claims for BRCA mutation testing between 2004 and 2014.

The researchers found that over the study period the proportion of BRCA tests performed in unaffected women increased significantly (P<.001), from 24.3% in 2004 to 61.5% in 2014. 

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This increase was seen in each subgroup. Except for those aged 51 to 65 years and those without a family history of breast cancer, in 2014 most subgroups had a proportion of testing in unaffected women surpassing 50%.

Among women who were tested, the proportion of those aged 20 to 40 years was much lower for those with previously diagnosed breast or ovarian cancer than for unaffected women (17.6 versus 41.7%; P<.001).

“During the past decade, the role of BRCA testing has gradually shifted from being used primarily in cancer patients to being used in unaffected women in the US,” the authors write.


Guo F, et al. “Use Of BRCA Mutation Test In The US, 2004–2014”. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2017.01.027 [Epub ahead of print]

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