Genetic Testing of Breast Cancer and Ovarian Cancer Patients in the Era of Precision Oncology

Speaker Name: 
Allison W. Kurian, M.D., M.Sc.
Speaker Title: 
Assoc. Prof. of Medicine (Oncology) & of Health Research and Policy, Director, Women’s Clinical Cancer Genetics Program
Speaker Organization: 
Stanford University School of Medicine
Start Time: 
Monday, August 20, 2018 - 11:00am
End Time: 
Monday, August 20, 2018 - 12:00pm
Baskin Engineering Rm 152
Melissa Cline, Ph.D., Genomics Institute


Germline multiple-gene sequencing has rapidly become the standard method of clinical cancer risk assessment. In patients with breast cancer or ovarian cancer, pathogenic variants in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are most prevalent, but a significant number of patients are found to carry pathogenic (or likely pathogenic) variants in a wide range of other genes whose cancer risks are less well- characterized. While pathogenic variants in less well-characterized genes are prevalent, the appropriate clinical management of carriers remains unclear. Questions remain about the magnitude of risk associated with a pathogenic variant in a specific gene; the spectrum of associated cancers; and the extent to which these factors are modified by family history.

I will discuss the SEER-GeneLINK initiative, in which we have collaborated with genetic testing laboratories to link the results of clinical genetic testing to Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results registry records of breast and ovarian cancer patients. Furthermore, we have surveyed these patients and their attending physicians about key aspects of genetic testing and clinical management of cancer risks. We are now extending this study to encompass cascade genetic testing of patients’ relatives. Recent results on the use, correlates and results of genetic testing on the population level will be presented.


Allison W. Kurian, M.D., M.Sc. is an Associate Professor of Medicine and of Health Research and Policy at Stanford University School of Medicine. She received her medical degree from Harvard Medical School, trained as a resident in Internal Medicine at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and completed her fellowship training in Medical Oncology along with a master’s degree in Epidemiology at Stanford University. As Director of the Stanford Women’s Clinical Cancer Genetics Program, Dr. Kurian's clinical practice centers on women at high risk for developing breast and gynecologic cancers. 

Dr. Kurian’s research focuses on the identification of women with elevated breast and gynecologic cancer risk, and on the development and evaluation of novel techniques for early cancer detection and risk reduction. One current area of investigation is the utility of next-generation sequencing technology for clinical decision-making. Dr. Kurian's research has been supported by the National Cancer Institute, the Komen Foundation, the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the California Breast Cancer Research Program, the Cancer Research and Prevention Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Breast Cancer Research Foundation.