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Bull Cancer. 2009 Sep;96(9):875-900. doi: 10.1684/bdc.2009.0943.

[Cancer genetics: estimation of the needs of the population in France for the next ten years].

[Article in French]

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Inserm, U535, Villejuif, France.


Organised since 1990 in France, cancer genetics has been strengthened since 2003 by the programme "Plan Cancer" which resulted in an improvement of the organisation of activities. The aim of this review is to present an update of the estimation of the needs of the population in this field for the next ten years, provided by a group of experts mandated by the French National Cancer Institute. Identification and management of major hereditary predispositions to cancer have a major impact on decrease in mortality and incidence. Sensitivity of criteria for the detection of BRCA1/2 mutations could be substantially improved by enlarging the indication for genetic testing to isolated cases of ovarian cancer occurring before 70 years and to familial cases occurring after this age limit. In the Lynch syndrome, the present criteria would have an excellent sensitivity for the detection of mutations in the mismatch repair (MMR) genes if the pre-screening of tumours on microsatellite instability (MSI) phenotype was effective, but these criteria are actually poorly applied. However, genetic testing should not be proposed to all the patients affected by tumours belonging to the spectrum of major predispositions and a fortiori to unaffected persons unless an affected relative has been identified as a carrier. The prescription of tests should continue to be strictly controlled and organised, in patients as well as in at-risk relatives. The enlargement of criteria and the improvement in the spreading of recommendations should result in an increase of genetic counselling activity and of the prescriptions of tests by a factor 2 to 4, and to a lesser extent in the clinical management of at risk persons. In a near future, it appears important to mandate experts on specific issues such as the determinants of the lack of effective application of tumour screening for MSI phenotype, the recommendations for the identification and the management of MYH-associated polyposis, or the predictive value of tumour characteristics for the identification of BRCA1/2 mutations. The expected increase in cancer genetics activity will need an optimal organisation to increase the throughput. Such measures will help in facing up to new predispositions that will probably be identified in common cancers.

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