publication date: Feb. 13, 2015

BRCA Testing Rates Jump After Angelina Jolie Story


BRCA gene testing rates increased by nearly 40 percent in the week of Angelina Jolie’s 2013 announcement that she carried the BRCA 1 gene mutation and had an elective double mastectomy, according to a new AARP Public Policy Institute study released Feb. 11.

This is the first report quantifying an increase in BRCA testing rates among women enrolled in a large U.S. health insurance carrier.

BRCA testing helps identify treatment options for women with the gene mutations before or after they are diagnosed with breast and/or ovarian cancer, according to NCI.

Prior to Jolie’s announcement, women with a cancer diagnosis had more BRCA tests than women who did not, the AARP study found. However, during the week of her public announcement, the increase in BRCA testing among women who did not have a cancer diagnosis was nearly twice that of women with a cancer diagnosis.

The testing rates increased from an average of 350 tests per week to an average of 500 tests per week.

“Our study showed that the BRCA testing rate increased about 40 percent and stayed at an elevated level for the rest of the year after Angelina Jolie’s announcement,” said AARP Executive Vice President for Policy Debra Whitman.

On May 14, 2013, Jolie announced in The New York Times that she tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene mutation and underwent a preventive double mastectomy to reduce her risk of developing breast cancer. Jolie’s story gained immediate and widespread international media attention.

Hereditary genetic defects likely cause about 5 to 10 percent of breast cancers, according to the … Continue reading 41-06 BRCA Testing Rates Jump After Angelina Jolie Story

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