Presented at a special session last Friday during the 11th European Breast Cancer Conference (EBCC-11), this year’s European Breast Cancer Council (EBCC) manifesto centers on the widely – and frequently hotly – debated issue of genetic testing of people for germline variants, particularly in the BRCA1/2 genes in breast cancer. The session panel, incorporating an exceptional cast of international leaders within the field, including Judith Balmaña, Principal Investigator of VHIO’s High Risk and Cancer Prevention Group, addressed, assessed and debated the various and very real concerns surrounding genetic risk prediction, including the ever increasingly available ‘direct to consumer´ testing.

The specially selected session discussants, EBCC-11 Chair, Robert Mansel, President of the European Breast Cancer Council, Emile Rutgers (The Netherlands), Lynda Wyld (UK), Karen Benn (Italy), Gareth Evans (UK), Paul Pharoah (UK), Luzia Travado (Portugal), Victoria Skinner (The Netherlands), and Judith Balmaña, represented an important multi-specialty blend of experts required to tackle this important issue from each perspective and every angle.

The Manifesto must-have conversations focused on the perils of commercially available testing at low cost  that are often unregulated for quality or guidance, the high risk of  misinterpretation in the absence of professional guidance and counselling, and the possible physical and psychological harm to individuals caused by unnecessary interventions and anxiety.

Commenting for VHIO Communications Judith Balmaña said, ‟In the case of genetic cancer risk assessment, knowledge is power only if it is reliable and of high quality, correctly interpreted, carefully managed and counselled. Data provided by testing must be read, evaluated and then communicated appropriately by expert teams”.

This year’s European Breast Cancer Council’s manifesto represents an essential forward step in better guiding policymakers, health professionals and patient advocates across Europe to ensure that breast cancer genetic risk testing is carried out according to the latest evidence-based guidelines, with informed consent and access to multidisciplinary teams including genetic counselors/clinical geneticists,” she concluded.

Considering the inputs and essential feedback received from participants throughout the EBBC-11 Manifesto Session, the paper is now being compiled for publication. Watch this space!

To access the Manifesto – Call to action please click here.