In the first decision of its kind, an expert group in the US advises against routine screening for breast cancer genes.
It is known that mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase the risk of breast cancer. But the United States Preventive Services Task Force now says that routine screening for the general population is not to be recommended. This is the first time the group has made a decision on genetic screening.
The experts say that screening should be confined to certain groups. These include those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent who have a first degree relative with breast or ovarian cancer and others who have two or more relatives who developed breast cancer aged under 50. Meanwhile, those who have three or more first or second degree relatives with breast cancer, regardless of age, also ought to be screened. There are other types of family history that also warrant screening and these are described in the Task Force's guidelines. In all, around two per cent of the female population in the US will have this kind of family history.
Source: Annals of Internal Medicine