From Associated Press
CHICAGO -- A deadly gene's path can hide in a family tree when a woman has few aunts and older sisters, making it appear that her breast cancer struck out of nowhere when it really came from Dad.
A new study suggests thousands of young women with breast cancer - an estimated 8,000 a year in the United States - aren't offered testing to identify faulty genes and clarify their medical decisions.
Guidelines used by insurance companies to decide coverage for genetic testing should change to reflect the findings, said study co-author Dr. Jeffrey Weitzel of City of Hope Cancer Center in Duarte, Calif.
"Interestingly, it's about Dad," Weitzel said. Half of genetic breast cancers are inherited from a woman's father, not her mother. But unless Dad has female relatives with breast cancer, the faulty gene may have been passed down silently, without causing cancer. (Men can get genetic breast cancer, too, but it's not common.)
Weitzel said doctors often overlook the genetic risk from the father's side of the family.
This is good information, but makes it very difficult to know when to get genetic testing. Should every woman get genetic testing regardless of her medical and family history? That would certainly go a long way towards solving the problem, but the insurance companies would most likely unamused. The records going back more than a generation or two are murky at best, so figuring out whether a woman’s father’s family had occurrences of breast cancer may be an exercise in futility. Medicine (and the insurance companies, again) needs to figure out how to make these tests less expensive. Woman, of course, need to self-examine (or have a friend do it). And women with breast cancer need to be sure to have this genetic test done, the chance for developing ovarian or cancer in the other breast are much, much greater for those genetically predisposed to it. We’re a little confused about this statement, “Half of genetic breast cancers are inherited from a woman's father, not her mother.” You would think that if half came from the father that the other half would have to come from the mother. But this is breast cancer so we’ll hold off on any jokes. Maybe some percentage comes from random genetic mutation.