Genetic Testing and Breast Cancer
Actress, mother and director Angelina Jolie bravely announced that she opted to have a preventive double mastectomy as a proactive measure to help prevent breast cancer. This is not an easy decision, and we applaud both her courageous decision and her desire to share the details of her journey with the world.
Many of our patients have asked why she would choose to remove her breasts since she wasn’t diagnosed with breast cancer. The truth is, she made the smartest choice she could have made for her situation. Angelina’s own mother fought cancer for almost a decade and sadly lost that battle. After finding out that she herself carried the BRCA1 gene, which indicates a very high risk of future development of breast and ovarian cancer, she decided to take safe, preventive measures and address the problem before it was too late.
Although the thought of undergoing a preventative mastectomy may seem scary; Dr. Cassileth’s advanced one-stage technique results in beautiful, natural looking breasts. In fact, many of our reconstructive patients prefer their new breasts to the ones they were born with! Have a look at before and after photos by going to the One-Stage Breast Reconstruction page on our website.
Know Your Risks:
You should consider testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer if any of the following applies to you:
- Have had breast cancer at age 50 or younger
- Have had ovarian cancer at any age
- Are male and have had breast cancer at any age
- Are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and have a personal or family history of breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer
- Has had two breast cancers in the same person or on the same side of the family
- Has had somebody diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at any age
- Has had pancreatic cancer and an Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) – associated cancer in the same person or on the same side of the family
- Has three or more family members with breast cancer on the same side of the family
- Has had a previously identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation in the family
We offer BRCA testing.
Call us to schedule an appointment: 888-465-5106.
Did you know that every woman has a 1 in 8 chance of getting breast cancer? It’s a scary statistic. However, breast cancer prevention and treatment and has come a long way. In my practice we have many young patients in their 20’s and 30’s with breast cancer, so it’s not just an older person’s disease. On the bright side, there are new screening tools that help increase the chance of early detection.
Stay on Top of Your Breast Health:
- Do a breast self-exam (learn how at cancer.org)
- Get yearly mammograms, after the age of 40 (covered by insurance!)
- Know your family’s health history and share the information with your gynecologist. Having a mother, sister, or daughter with breast cancer almost doubles a woman’s risk. However, most (over 85%) of women who get breast cancer do not have a family history of this disease.
If you have a history of cancer in your family, genetic testing (in addition to mammograms) is recommended, even if you are in your 20’s.
The Genetic Link – New Screening Tests Could Save Your Life!
New advances in gene therapy have led researchers to identify the genetic codes for breast cancer genes. You may have heard or read about these genes, named BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Having one or both of these genes indicates an increased risk (as high as 4 in 5) of getting breast and ovarian cancer.
If You are BRCA-Positive
Women who are BRCA-positive may opt for a mastectomy before they ever get breast cancer rather than face a lifetime of worry. Fortunately there are now new techniques for breast reconstruction that have made prophylactic mastectomy a more attractive option.
Cassileth One-Stage Breast Reconstruction technique was designed with the needs of these women in mind. This unique procedure allows women to wake up from their surgery with new, beautiful breasts. In fact, many of our patients say they like their new breasts even better than the ones they were born with!
See the amazing before and after photos at drcassileth.com.
We want to know: if you tested positive for the BRCA gene, would you choose to have a preventative mastectomy? Or would you opt to wait and see and decide later? We’d love to hear from you. Post your response in the comments below.