Genetic testing has been popularized in these years to detect the early stages of its occurance and initiate the treatment.
Breast cancer is a threatening disease which is engulfing many women in its jaws of death. Genetic testing has been popularized in these years to detect the early stages of its occurance and initiate the treatment. Recently the Hollywood star Anjelina Jolie was in the news when she got her both breast removed after she was tested positive for the breast cancer through the genetic testing. This write up answers many questions pertaining to the genetic testing of the breast cancer.
What is genetic testing for breast cancer?
Genetic testing is for breast cancer is identifying the mutated genes in the human body that is responsible for the breast and ovarian cancer. These genes are known as BRCA1 & BRCA2.
Who should get themselves genetically tested for the breast and ovarian cancer?
Women who have a family history of breast cancer especially if it has occurred before the age of 50 years i.e before the beginning of menopause, should get themselves tested at priority.
What is the significance of this testing among women?
If you are women who has high risk of getting breast cancer due to your family history then this test shows that whether you have that mutated gene or not.
There are 2000 mutations identified on BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and not all of them carry the same risk of cancer. The levels of risks with each of them still remain unknown.
If you have an altered BRCA gene, then it doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get breast or ovarian cancer. It only shows your chances of getting the disease as you age are much more than the average women.
Test results also can’t determine exactly your level of risk, at what age you may develop cancer, how aggressively the disease might progress or how your risk of death from cancer compares with other women’s risk.
If you’re at high risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, many difficult decisions lie ahead. Further education and research, as well as discussions with your doctor or a genetic counselor, may help make these decisions easier to face in the years to come
What if my results are positive for the testing?
The positive results in the test shows that you have higher chances than normal or average women of getting breast cancer as you age. Women in the general population have a lifetime risk of 12 percent for breast cancer and 1.4 percent for ovarian cancer. While the positively tested women can have the 80% chances of contacting this disease by the age of 80 years with the chances slowly increasing as she age up to 80 years.
What are the other factors responsible for the onset of breast cancer among women?
The researchers reported that physical activity and a healthy weight during adolescence was associated with delayed onset of breast cancer.
Who is at increased risk of having the mutated genes?
Certain factors are responsible for the likelihood of having a BRCA mutation. You might be at increased risk if any of the following apply to you:
- History of breast cancer in two or more close relatives, such as your mother and sisters.
- Onset of breast cancer before age 50 in family members on either your mother’s or your father’s side of the family.
- History of breast cancer in more than one generation.
- A male relative with breast cancer.
- A family member who has both breast and ovarian cancers.
- Breast cancer in both breasts of a family member.
- A frequent occurrence of ovarian cancer within your family.
- A positive BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic test in a relative.
Is inheritance of the mutated genes a hereditary trait?
No, just the having a family member does not guarantee you the mutated genes inheritance and in other words it is not necessary that if you do not have a family member with the mutated genes then you won’t have the chance of breast cancer in your later life. In fact women living up to the age of 80 years are very much vulnerable to the breast cancer irrespective of their hereditary back ground. In fact these statistics of a scientific study clears the picture.
- As many as 80 percent of women who develop breast cancer don’t have a family history of breast cancer.
- About 15 percent of women who develop breast cancer do have some family history of breast cancer.
What to do next if my genetic testing results are positive?
This means you should avoid alcohol consumption, exercise regularly and lose your excess weight. These steps are though recommended for everyone irresepective of the risk level.
This means you have to go for frequent mammograms and clinical breast tests at least for once in a year or better still once in a month. Your doctor may also recommend additional imaging methods, such as ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging, as a part of your routine surveillance.
What if my test results are negative?
In this scenario, two situations can occur which are as follows:
You have at least one relative with BRCA mutation
Even though the test results were negative, you may still be at high risk of hereditary breast cancer if your family carries a gene mutation that hasn’t yet been identified. Your level of risk therefore can’t be based on genetic testing alone. Studies of families similar to your own may allow your doctor to estimate your risk of developing breast cancer.
You don’t have any relative with BRCA mutation
The absence of a BRCA mutation means you haven’t inherited your family’s increased risk. This doesn’t mean, however, that your risk of breast cancer is zero. You’re at the same risk as the general population.
If you’re at high risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancers, many difficult decisions lie ahead. Further education and research, as well as discussions with your doctor or a genetic counselor, may help make these decisions easier to face in the years to come.