Women, like Angelina Jolie and me, who have a family history of breast cancer worry more about breast cancer according to a new study. One of the best things that I did was to get tested for the BRCA 1 & 2 genes, which helped me have more information and less fear.
Having information and then talking about it with my surgeon, breast specialist and gynecologist helped me feel more empowered.
I found out that because my mom tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA 1 gene, it meant that my brothers should consider being tested so that they could understand their risk for pancreatic and prostate cancer, since they’re related cancers.
Angelina Jolie made a brave and difficult decision to have a double mastectomy to prevent the development of breast cancer. She is planning to have her ovaries removed in the future as there’s also a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer in the future.
Getting answers on Genetic Testing
Your family history is your first and best Genetictest. For people who are wondering if they are at higher risk and what they should do to check for hereditary cancers, seeing a genetic counselor is a great first step. I recently covered this on CBS.
New Less Expensive Testing Available
In the past, there was only one company performing genetic testing for Breast Cancer and unfortunately, there were many issues, number one, the cost, which was $3,000! Yes, they were charging way, way too much! Plus the fact that this company kept all their data proprietary, in other words they didn’t share with other researchers who are looking at the genetic variants for BRCA 1 and 2 mutations.
Now, however there are several options for people and families, including a new, much less expensive and more comprehensive genetic panel through GetColor.com. They test 19 different genes including BRCA1 and BRCA2 to provide more information on risk. They also have genetic counselors available to talk with you. The cost is a small fraction of other tests, only $250. Really!
A study in Europe done by a group headed by Dr. Jan G.M. Klijn, an emeritus professor of medical oncology at the Erasmus University in Rotterdam found that while mammograms found about 25% of breast canacers in women with a BRCA mutation, MRI was better at detecting cancer. In fact MRI detected 66.7 percent of cancers. For high risk women, survival was also improved from early detection.
MRI every 6 months is another option for women with the BRCA mutation instead of prophylactic mastectomy. If you’re high risk, ask your OB/GYN or breast specialist about this option.
Through El Camino Hospital, you can fill out a family medical history tool, free of charge. Then you can use this tool and get information from a genetic counselor to help you sort out your family medical history.