Connecting the Dots Between a Pink Ribbon, a Laboratory Test and Patient Care | The importance of cancer genetic testing

Posted by Sara Carpenter on Oct 16, 2020 4:11:57 PM
Sara Carpenter
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A simple pink ribbon sparked a change in the world.

Rewind to 1992. Self magazine’s then-editor-in-chief Alexandra Penney and Evelyn Lauder, a breast cancer survivor and Estée Lauder Company cosmetics executive, teamed to create a feminine-inspired pink ribbon and a how-to breast self-exam card for distribution to 1.5 million female shoppers at Estée Lauder makeup counters across the United States. The result was powerful, yielding more than 200,000 pink ribbon petitions seeking increased funding from the White House for breast cancer research.

That simple pink ribbon has since become a beacon of hope, renewed health and cancer survival. It also is synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign every October. Globally recognized, the pink ribbon continues to boost awareness about self-exams, annual screenings and early detection; elevate research funding; and express moral support for women with breast cancer.

Startling U.S. Statistics for 2020 

 The statistics are indeed startling. The National Breast Cancer Foundation estimates that in 2020:

  • ’        1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime
  • ’        1 woman is diagnosed with breast cancer every 2 minutes
  • ’        276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women
  • ’        Another 48,530 new cases of non-invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed
  • ’        2,620 men will receive a breast cancer diagnosis
  • ’        42,170 women and 520 men will die from breast cancer
  • ’        30% of all new cancer diagnoses in females will be breast cancer, second only to skin cancers


Despite these sobering statistics, there’s good news.

 The National Breast Cancer Foundation also reports that 64% of patients with breast cancer are diagnosed before the cancer has spread outside the breast, giving them a five-year survival rate of 99%. Today, there are more than 3.5 million breast cancer survivors in the United States.


The Knowns and the Unknowns

Like many cancers, there are both knowns and unknowns associated with breast cancer.

What is known is that breast cancer forms in the breast tissue when a cell’s DNA is damaged. Also known are genetic and environmental risk factors – or both – as well as risks associated with age and lifestyle. What isn’t known is exactly how or why the DNA becomes damaged.


1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime

Genetic risk factors cannot be controlled, but knowing a patient’s risk profile is an important component in proactive patient care. These include:

  • A family history of breast cancer

  • Mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes

  • Reproductive history that exposes the patient to hormones for a longer time, including early menstruation before age 12 and late menopause after age 55

  • Dense breast tissue

  • Non-cancerous cell abnormalities


Carrying the Torch

Diax LabsTM is committed to carrying the torch that was lit in 1992 by two women whose passion for raising awareness about breast cancer has saved many lives.

Our Cancer Genetic Testing (CGx) targets key genes associated with breast cancer: BRCA1 and BRCA2. While BRCA genes come in pairs, a mutation in only one gene in the pair puts a patient, whether female or male, at risk for breast cancer.

The importance of testing cannot be overstated.

  • A positive test result removes uncertainty about the existence of a gene mutation and positions the physician and patient to make informed decisions.
  • Confirmation of a BRCA mutation gives a physician important insight that can ultimately shape a patient’s personalized medicine program. This might include enhanced breast cancer screening at a younger age or more frequently, which, in turn, might lead to an early diagnosis, early treatment and a favorable patient outcome.
  • Knowing that a patient has a BRCA mutation also might prompt a physician to test for other forms of disease, such as ovarian cancer for a female patient or prostate cancer for a male patient.
  • A positive test result also impacts family members, with a 50% chance of passing on the gene mutation to each child and a 50% chance of passing on the gene without the mutation.
  • A patient’s siblings also may have inherited the BRCA mutation from a parent, making information sharing with family members paramount.

 Of course, a positive test result for a BRCA mutation does not necessarily mean a patient will develop cancer. Rather, this test is designed to give the physician and the patient critical information to shape decision-making.


Here to Assist You

Genetics testing can be an important – even life-saving – component of patient care. Knowing the facts can impact the patient’s life, as well as the lives of the patient’s children and siblings. And, as statistics show, early detection made possible through genetic testing can save lives.

If you are an independent physician or laboratory marketing professional that sells to these independent physicians, we welcome the opportunity to talk with you one on one about CGx testing at Diax LabsTM. For more information or to schedule a virtual presentation, please click Learn More below.

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Topics: Blog