ROME (ANSA) — Italy has introduced a national service to test for lethal breast-cancer genes. The service slashes the time for obtaining results to just three weeks.
Previously, testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes required a wait time of five to eight months.
Actress Angelina Jolie spread awareness of BRCA mutations when she chose to receive a double mastectomy in 2013, after being diagnosed with a harmful BRCA1 mutation.
Healthy BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes produce tumor-suppressor proteins.
The U.S. National Cancer Institute says that 55-65 percent of women who inherit a harmful mutation of the BRCA1 gene and 45 percent of women with a modified BRCA2 develop cancer by age 70. That compares to about 12 percent of women in the general population who develop breast cancer during their lives.
Roughly 40 percent of women with mutated BRCA1 genes and 11-17 percent of women with mutated BRCA2 genes develop ovarian cancer by age 70. Ovarian cancer occurs in about 1.3 percent of the general female population.
Italy’s new national testing service is based on an online platform and was developed by the Department for the Protection of Women’s Health of the Roman teaching hospital, Policlinico Universitario Agostino Gemelli, and the Italian pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca.
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