More than 13 percent of cancer-related mutations are inherited, study finds

Genetic testing identifies inherited cancer mutations more effectively than a standard guideline-based approach, according to research published in JAMA Oncology. 

Researchers analyzed 2,984 cancer patients who underwent genetic testing across Mayo Clinic Cancer Center locations in Arizona, Florida and Minnesota between April 2018 and March 2020. 

Results showed that 1 in 8 cancer patients had an inherited cancer-related gene mutation, and that in half of these patients, a standard guideline-based approach would not have identified the genetic mutation. 

The multicenter project, which utilized universal genetic testing for a broad mix of cancer stages and types, is the largest known study of its kind. 

“Everyone has some risk of developing cancer, and in most cases the disease develops by chance,” Niloy Jewel Samadder, MD, study author and Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and hepatologist, said in a statement. “However, some people are genetically predisposed to developing certain types of cancer, such as breast or colon cancers.” 

Genetic testing also helped lead to targeted treatment paths, with about 30 percent of patients with the highest-risk cancer genes having a change to their surgery type or chemotherapy, researchers found. 

The findings underscore the importance of widening access to genetic testing, the study said. 

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