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Initial Experience with Surgical Treatment Planning in the Newly Diagnosed Breast Cancer Patient at High Risk for BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 Mutation

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Despite an abundance of information available for dealing with patients with BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations, little guidance is available to assist the surgeon in dealing with the genetically high-risk patient recently diagnosed with breast cancer. A retrospective review was undertaken of 170 patients who underwent genetic counseling and testing over a 3-year period from March 2000 to March 2003. Forty-three of the 170 patients tested were diagnosed with breast cancer prior to genetic testing. Nine patients (20.9%) tested positive for a deleterious mutation. Fifty-eight percent underwent genetic counseling prior to definitive cancer surgery. Five of the 25 patients who underwent lumpectomy tested positive for a deleterious mutation. Testing results became available during systemic therapy or radiation was delayed until results were known. After counseling, all five patients testing positive went on to bilateral prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction. None had radiation therapy. Because of a strong family history, eight patients elected to undergo prophylactic mastectomy and reconstruction prior to obtaining genetic test results; and despite compelling histories, all eight tested negative for a mutation. Treatment algorithms are developed to manage patients that are first discovered to be at high risk for a BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 mutation at the time they are diagnosed with breast cancer. Patients diagnosed with breast cancer who are discovered to be at high risk for a genetic mutation should undergo counseling prior to definitive surgery. This maximizes the time that patients have to consider options for prophylaxis and monitoring should their test be positive. It also prevents women who would otherwise be candidates for breast preservation from undergoing unnecessary radiation therapy should they chose prophylactic mastectomy in the face of a positive test. 
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Keywords: BRCA-1; BRCA-2; breast cancer; breast reconstruction; genetic counseling; genetic testing; prophylactic mastectomy; radiation therapy; tamoxifen

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Surgery, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana 2: Department of Surgery 3: Ochsner Clinic Foundation, New Orleans, Louisiana 4: Section of Medical Genetics

Publication date: 2004-11-01

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