Tuesday, August 9, 2011

What Does This Mean?

A few people have asked, what exactly does it mean to be a breast cancer gene carrier?

To steal some of my sister's own words, it means that my chance of developing breast and ovarian cancer go up dramatically. It means that decisions need to be made about how to help prevent a diagnosis, whether through vigilant screening or surgery to remove the risky body parts. It means serious consideration needs to be given, sooner rather than later, about having children. And it also means that I have a 50 percent chance of passing the gene along to my barely thought of unborn child(ren).

It's a heavy burden to have at the age of 32.

I thought I was prepared for this information and knowledge.

In fact, with my own family medical history, I have often felt that my risk of cancer was more a matter of when and not if.

And I'm not a pessimistic person.

I'm really not!

But even with all of that kicking around in my head, it's been hard to digest all of this.

On the BRCA analysis, it says: Although the exact risk of breast and ovarian cancer conferred by this specific mutation has not been determined, studies of this type of mutation in high-risk families indicate that deleterious mutations in BRCA2 may confer as much as an 84% risk of breast cancer (up from 12%) and a 27% risk of ovarian cancer (up from 1.5%) by age 70 in women. This mutation may also confer up to an 8% risk of male breast cancer and a 20% risk of prostate cancer by age 80, as well as increase (albeit low) risks of some other cancers. Each first degree relative of this individual has a one-in-two chance of having this mutation.

Yuck, right?

So yeah.

My risk for breast cancer could be as high as 84% whereas the risk for the average person is 12%. And my risk for ovarian cancer goes from 1.5% up to 27%.

I know that I need to meet with a geneticist to find out what my true risk is. Because my family medical history will need to be accounted for when determining this. My gut tells me my risk will go down.

I do know that I will continue to learn more as I move through this process.


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