Since American actress, Angelina Jolie, confirmed her double mastectomy to prevent breast cancer “the risk of which was highlighted in her genetic genealogy“, an increasing number of women are undergoing genetic tests and screening. Numbers have more than doubled in the United States and the United Kingdom.
This fact was highlighted in a study recently presented during the American Oncology Society Congress: “Scientists compared the number of tests carried out six months before the actress revealed that she had undergone surgery, and after it, in an academic centre in Ontario” explained the Pourquoi docteur? (Why Doctor ?) website. The study showed that “the number of women who underwent genetic tests increased by 85%, leading to a 99% increase in the number of tests carried out“. According to the Breast Cancer Research journal, this phenomenon has also been observed in the United Kingdom.
Going beyond genetic testing, the issue is to establish what women do with this information. In fact, the information does not constitute a diagnosis per se but highlights a risk of developing breast cancer. The dilemma is clearly evident in Angelina Jolie’s reaction: she chose to undergo a double mastectomy without knowing for certain that she would have developed cancer. Women who undergo genetic testing could follow this “model” if a genetic risk is confirmed. The results of a vast study conducted in the United States and published in September show that the breast cancer survival rate is no better with this radical solution in anticipation of the disease than with a single mastectomy (performed on the breast that is actually affected), or ablation of cancer tissues followed by radiotherapy (Gènéthique press review on September 10th, 2014)