New recommendations for treating breast cancer patients could be life-saving, with North Texas doctors saying genetic testing is the key.
Doctors at Texas Health Dallas helped create some new national guidelines that are aimed at not only saving lives, but preventing breast cancer in families.
Kenya Love Lawson helps run the Texas Health Dallas mobile unit.
It was a calling born from a dark time in her life.
“When I was 40 years old, the first-ever screening mammogram I had, it was abnormal. A year later, when I was 41, I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” she said.
As a survivor, she knows tools like genetic testing that can help focus a patient’s treatment are crucial.
“We are getting great support for doing the right thing, and that makes me excited because it is controversial,” said Dr. Walton Taylor, surgical oncologist at Texas Health Dallas.
Dr. Taylor is the president of the American Society of Breast Surgeons, which just released new guidelines recommending genetic testing for most breast cancer patients — not just those who with BRCA 1 and 2 gene mutations.
“We discovered, looking at data, that we missed a lot of patients with mutations,” Dr. Taylor said.
He says genetic testing not only helps doctors focus therapy, but also determine if a patient is at risk for other cancers, and the technology has advanced enough that cost is no longer prohibitive.
“Genetic testing now, from a lot of labs, costs less than doing a diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound,” Dr. Taylor said.
Lawson says genetic testing revealed she did not have genes commonly associated with breast cancer, but she’s glad she was tested for herself and her family.
“I knew, because of not knowing enough about my own history, I needed to find out for my own kids,” she added.