As a result, Dr. Scott stressed the importance of seeking genetic testing and getting a better handle on family history. She said that breast cancer in males, ovarian cancer, having had two primary breast cancers, or a previously identified BRCA mutation in the family, are all examples of cases that should be regarded as red flags for hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome. Currently, Dr. Scott is concerned with the application of a new field of research called molecular diagnostics. The products that result from this research “assess an individual’s risk for developing disease later in life (predictive medicine), identify a patient’s likelihood of responding to a particular drug therapy and tailor a patient’s drug dose to ensure optimal treatment (personalized medicine), and assess a patient’s risk of disease progression and disease recurrence (prognostic medicine).”
She also discussed preventative measures for people who, based on family history or other factors, are at high risk of developing breast cancer as well as options for individuals who have become victims of it. Mammograms, MRI scans and self-exams are all effective methods of surveillance. While prophylactic surgeries, are often the most viable solutions for women who run a high-risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer due to their family history, or prior experience with cancer. Non-invasive therapies, such as oral contraceptives or the drug, Tamoxifen, have also proven effective.
Though Dr. Scott is not directly involved in this type of research, she works with a molecular diagnostic company, Myriad Genetics, based in Salt Lake City, Utah. The company develops “technologies that permit doctors and patients to understand the genetic basis of human disease and the role that genes play in the onset, progression and treatment of disease. This information is used to guide the development of new molecular diagnostic products.”