Posted: Dec 7, 2012 8:35 AM by Marissa Torres
Updated: Dec 7, 2012 9:01 AM
Genetic testing is helping many women. Knowing whether you're predisposed to a certain type of cancer gives patients an opportunity to plan ahead.
Mary Holms' sister, Debbie, lost her battle with Breast Cancer at the age of 30; she was diagnosed at 28.
"She was was five months pregnant with her third child when she noticed a lump in her breast."
Mary's family did research and found out some people on her dad's side had a gene for breast cancer.
"So we went ahead and got tested, she was BRCA 1 positive, and I was the same."
Dr. Maegan Roberts, a genetic counselor, says there's a common myth out there that you only get it from your mother's side of the family, but that's not always the case; there are actually two genes that can run on either side of the family.
They increase the risk for Breast Cancer by 80 percent and Ovarian Cancer risk by 40 percent. The question is, if it runs in your family, should you get tested?
"I tend to think about it as knowledge. Having the knowledge is power. Once you know you have a mutation, know you have a certain risk... you can take steps proactively and find things quicker at an earlier, more treatable stage... you can take steps to prevent cancer, and you can inform your family, so they can take steps to protect themselves as well," says Dr. Stephanie Hines with the Mayo Clinic.
Dr. Hines says, if you have the gene, you can increase tests with Breast Cancer exams, mammography, MRI, you can take medicines like Tamoxifen, have a mastectomy, or surgery to remove ovaries.
Once Mary learned she carried a gene, she chose testing and surveillance. She recommends all women consider the testing so they know their options so they can make informed decisions.