Thursday, September 11, 2014

Fairly Benign Article This Week

In fact she calls for almost universal cancer screening for women over 30. It is the "we can-so we must" argument. Except that it's not quite so simple as saying that the BRCA1 mutation is "exactly a cancer-causing genetic mutation." There are a few difficulties here. 
  • As the article notes there is controversy, (of course there is), as the evidence that women with BRCA1 mutations but no family history of breast cancer are at great risk is scant
  • First BRCA1 and BRCA2 have well over a hundred variations and only a few of these are associated with cancer and tumors. 
  • Also, there is the fact that 90% of women with breast cancer do not fall into the category of testing positive for BRCA1 mutations and coming from families with histories of breast cancer 
  •  On the other hand we are told that women who test positive for the BRCA1 mutations have a 85% lifetime risk of developing cancer.
  I pulled the data from these last 3 bullets from an excerpt in Robert Kolb’s book “The Ethics of Genetic Commerce.”

In any case, Dr. King has certainly mastered the language of rights-speak snippets:
“Why should women be protected from information that will empower them and allow them to control their lives? We don’t need that kind of protection.”
She added, though, that women should not be told about other rare mutations whose significance is unknown.

So then, we ought to take from Dr. King that women should be protected from some inconclusive information about mutations and it ought to be mandated that they are provided information about some other inconclusive information regarding mutations...or something, I guess. It’s all a matter of dictating by degrees it seems.

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