East Texas oncologist says 23andMe test for breast cancer gene mutation is misleading

The FDA gave 23andMe the green light to produce "take home tests" that can identify certain gene mutations that are connected to breast cancer.

Biotechnological company, 23andMe, was given the green light from the FDA to produce take home tests that can identify specific gene mutations related to breast cancer. A 2017 report from the Texas Department of Health Services showed 17,000 cases of breast cancer. While these tests would provide a way for people to get access to their genetic blueprint, an oncologist in Tyler said he wouldn't recommend people buying one.

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Dr. Kamran Shahid, at UT Health Northeast MD Medical Cancer Center, said the test would leave out other mutations that could cause cancer. 23andMe tests only screen for three gene mutations linked to a higher risk of breast cancer. However, the genes are usually discovered in people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

"People would do this test and some of our common folks will say 'hey I don't carry the gene, I don't have risk of breast cancer,'" Dr. Shahid explained. "Which is really wrong and all aspects and controversial."

Dr. Shahid pointed out how that alone can be misleading to someone taking the test, especially when considering the thousands of mutations related to the disease. The oncologist recommended taking a genetic test through a primary care provider. There are criteria to take one, including: having two or more primary breast cancers or requiring female patients under the age of 50.

According to 23andMe's website, the testing kits will be available in a few weeks. Tests will cost $199 and the results should take six to eight weeks.