Medical Decision or Drastic Decision?

Michelle Bullock
2252 days ago.

During a recent check-up, my doctor began asking the usual questions that doctors ask, “any family history of heart disease, cancer, etc.?” I gave him my typical answer of, “both of my parents had congestive heart failure and my paternal aunt died from cancer.”  She was the only family member I knew of that had passed from it.  He proceeded to ask more questions about my aunt. When did she die? What type of cancer did she have?  What age was she when diagnosed? No other doctor in previous check-ups had ever asked me about my paternal aunt.  She was a beautiful woman who had been diagnosed in her early forties with breast cancer and ultimately passed away from cancer before she was fifty years old.  This was apparently important enough for my doctor to hand me a pamphlet about BRACAnalysis. aunt mary lou

BRACAnalysis testing detects mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Because my aunt had breast cancer before she was fifty, it put me at risk for having this gene mutation.

A person may have an inherited risk if:

  •  You or a family member (mother’s or father’s side) were diagnosed with breast cancer at age 50 or younger
  •  You or a family member were diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age
  •  You have a male family member with breast cancer at any age
  •  You have Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry, and a personal or family history of an HBOC-associated cancer at any age
  •  There are two breast cancers in the same person or two family members with breast cancer on the same side of the family, one under age 50
  •  You or a family member were diagnosed with triple negative breast cancer at any age
  •  There is pancreatic cancer and an HBOC-associated cancer in the same person or on the same side of the family at any age
  •  There are three family members with breast cancer in the same side of the family
  •  You have a previously identified BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation in your family

Women with the BRCA mutation have: thCAXXR1QT

  •             Up to a 50% risk of developing breast cancer by age 50
  •             Up to an 87% risk of developing breast cancer by age 70
  •             Up to a 64% risk of developing a second breast cancer
  •             Up to a 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer by 70

Men, please take note that BRCA mutations also increase the risk of other cancers, including up to an 8% risk for male breast cancer and up to a 7% risk for pancreatic cancer.

Knowing my risks, I have been seriously thinking about being tested for the gene.  If I test positive for the gene mutation, many questions come to mind.  In talking to women family members and friends, I have received many different opinions on this topic.

angelina jolie This gene mutation prompted super star Angelina Jolie to make the decision to have a double mastectomy.  After reading the OP-ED she wrote in the New York Times, I came to the conclusion that she made the decision for her children and as she states, it was ultimately “my medical choice.”

 Do you think her decision was drastic or necessary?

 If you were at risk for having the gene mutation, would you even get tested?

 Do you think everyone will jump on the Angelina Jolie “bandwagon”?

 I would love to hear everyone’s opinion on this topic. Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section.

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Photos courtesy of Lux Magazine

Michelle Bullock

Michelle was born on "The Hill" in St. Louis and currently lives in O'Fallon, MO. She pretends she can cook fine cuisine, but can actually bake what her husband calls "Five Star Desserts". Her two greatest joys are her very cute but very evil children. She has made meeting Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam number one on her bucket list.

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