Sunday, May 9, 2010

Breast Cancer Gene

I read this article today about new breast cancer gene links that have been discovered. You can read about it here.

Since my Mom, and paternal aunt both had breast cancer, I've considered getting genetic testing done. It's not an easy decision for me. I always worry about whether insurance would cover what they would consider a pre-existing condition if you found out you had the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene (when these genes mutate, they cause a 90% chance of developing breast cancer).

And then I wonder what I would do if I found out that I was at that even higher risk. Would I get a mastectomy? I'm very pro-testing when it comes to annual exams and mammograms, but knowing this information puts a much bigger burden on your brain!

Are you in a similar situation? What are your thoughts on it?


  1. My mom had the genetic testing done after her double mastectomy. She only had cancer in one breast but didn't want to take any chances with our extensive family history. She did the testing so my sister and I would have the information.

    I went with her for the blood draw and interview. Everything was coded without her name on it so it would be secret. I remember the future insurance qualification was a concern and somehow this helped. I can ask her how that worked.

    Ends up that she does not carry the gene. Because of our extensive family history my sister and I and our doctors are extra aware of the concern and have our tests regularly. I also had a breast MRI which really showed a lot.

    For me, the family history means more than the testing.

  2. I know this is 2 months old - but thought I would respond as well.

    My moms side of the family has very high incidence of ovarian cancer
    ( my grandmom, and 4 out of the 6 kids = 2 aunts, my mom, and my uncle who died of pancreatic cancer at 35) One of the aunts has it now reoccuring as breast cancer.

    My mom died without having any testing done.
    Two of my sisters ( there are 4 of us) have already had their ovaries removed (cancer free - but for precaution).

    I did go thru the genetic testing and found out I didn't have either of the genes so now - my insurance won't pay for the removal of my ovaries - even though my family is so high risk.

    Would I do the testing again? Probably so - because it was the only way to find out if my insurance would cover the surgery.

    Did it do anything to ease my mind. Not at all - I could still get it - and my insurance Co would do nothing about it.

    However even if I had the gene - I think I would still wait until menopause (I am 47) before having them removed, now I am still diligent to have an ultra sound and CA-125 test every 6 months - the rate is still very high for non carriers to get the disease.

    It is a tough choice. And when I was going thru the testing - all they talked about was if I had the gene I should have both breasts removed at once. I hadn't even thought of the connection between breast and ovarian cancer.

    I think perhaps I was at a cut happy surgeons office, but he was the only one in the area doing the testing.


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