Technology That Can Help You Fight Cancer Before it Happens

Published: Oct. 29, 2021 at 6:55 PM CDT
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One in eight women will be affected by breast cancer...

But many people don’t know there is a way to see if you’re at high risk for developing breast cancer among other diseases.

It’s called Genetic Testing, and it allows people to look into their genetic makeup and see if they carry any mutations within their genetic code, mutations that would put them at a higher risk for certain cancers.

Julia Wilkinson, Clinical Program Manager at Invitae Genomics says, “it’s important for us to think about doing genetic testing so we can understand, what are your risks? What does that mean for you? Do we need to do something different to first of all monitor for cancer?

B-R-C-A, or the BRCA genetic mutation, increases a person’s risk of developing breast cancer by 86 percent, and the risk of developing ovarian cancer by 67 percent.

But genetic testing isn’t just for you.

Wilkinson states, “This is not just about you as a person, this is about your family members. So if we identify that you have a mutation, that you have something like this BRCA gene, that means that there’s a 50/50 chance that your siblings do as well. 50/50 that one of your parents did if we didn’t already know about them, and 50/50 for your future kids.”

For those who find out they*are at a high risk, there are options, such as early screenings or preventative surgeries.

“Do we follow all the regular cancer guidelines, or do we need to monitor earlier? More frequently. Are there preventative options? For some of these things, especially the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, the risks are so high we actually talk about things like preventative surgeries, before you have cancer.” Wilkinson continues.

But for people like Helene Duhamel who is a breast cancer survivor and had the test. After getting her results, she opted to have a double mastectomy.

Duhamel states, “It’s a very difficult position to be in, and at a certain point. Having fought Cancer once, with the second cancer just looming there, and the likelihood of getting another cancer, you know I just decided, my breast were only a part of me, they’re not all of me. It seemed like a really smart thing to take away the biggest risk for my future.”

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