KUDOS to Angelina:
A Word by Barbara Bowers, M.D., Oncologist, Hematologist

HealthEZ Breast Cancer Senior Clinical Advisor

Article written for HealthEZ

Kudos to Angelina Jolie, who had the strength of character to not only have a life-preserving treatment for familial breast cancer, but to share it with us.

Only 1 in 10 breast cancer cases occur in women with family histories of breast cancer in a first-degree relative. Women who have strong family histories of breast cancer are at significantly higher risk. The average woman has a 12% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime and a BRCA1 or 2 carrier has a 70% to 80% chance of developing breast cancer. These women are at significantly greater risk of developing ovarian cancer as well.

What makes someone more likely to be at risk of having a genetic predisposition to the BRCA gene?

You are at increased risk if you have a mother, grandmother, aunt (on either side of your family), sister, or child that developed premenopausal breast cancer, bilateral breast cancer or ovarian cancer, or a male with breast cancer in the family. Also at increased risk are women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry. Women who have a personal history of breast cancer before 50 or a history of ovarian cancer should be tested.

It is advisable to have a family member with cancer tested; if they carry the BRCA gene, it is easier and less expensive to test for that specific gene. If testing shows the family member does not carry the gene, then it could not have been passed along and other family members do not need to be tested.

It is important to see a genetics counselor for evaluation of the family history since there are several genetic variants that must be assessed in order to achieve an accurate testing result.

Barbara Bowers, M.D.
University of Minnesota Cancer Center, Southdale
Associate Professor of Medicine and Medical Director, University of Minnesota

We care. For more information: Please call Joann Damawand at 952-896-1248.
While many insurers have guidelines prohibiting preventative mastectomies on women at risk, HealthEZ does not. As always, we are here to serve your needs.

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