Thursday, 7 February 2013

Genetics and Hereditary Cancer Quiz

It is no secret that genetics and I have tumultuous relationship. I have been battling my Darwinian Failings for the laste decade. And as a result of my long and sorted history with my genes I feel very strongly about my choice to act proactively and the knowledge all of these medical advances have afforded me.

You can't have a blog title like mine. And talk about the things I talk about. Without getting a lot of questions about genetics. I guess I was sort of asking for it, wasn't I?!

I often shy away from really discussing the brass tacks of genetics and genetic testing, because quite frankly it is a complicated topic. And results of which, offer a double edged sword. Once you know, you have knowledge and a choice. But once you know, you also can't unknow either. So you need to be ready to face your results and what they mean.

When I went through my first round of genetic testing for Long QT syndrome, I was already diagnosed, I already had my robot heart, and I had already been through 2 surgeries. So hearing I carried the genetic marker wasn't shock and it didn't exactly change anything either.

When the opportunity arose the be tested for BRCA gene - I knew what that meant for my health, I knew what it meant for my Breast Cancer Risk, I wanted to be tested and to act proactively, and I also knew what my choice would be if the results came back positive. I went into testing pretty resigned to the fact that I would test positive - genetics has never been my strong suit so I assumed that this would be more of the same. I was very prepared for what having this information would mean.

That being said, not everyone has the same checkered medical past that I do though, so making decisions regarding genetic testing and preventative treatments are not always so cut and dry. So to the many people who question me about this type of screening I feel the need to caution you before you journey down this road. Are you ready to face the results whatever they may be?

It is very possible that you will get good news only 7% of all Breast Cancer cases are attributed to the gene, so carrying the gene is rare. Only a very small percentage of the population actually carry the gene, but those who are BRCA+ have an exponentially higher risk of developing the disease. So once you know that you are a BRCA carrier - you know. And choices about screening and preventative options will always remain forefront in your mind. It is something that will begin to inform everything - so you have to be ready for that.

All that doom and gloom aside, I know there are many people who have been affected by Breast Cancer and are curious about the prospect of genetic screening and the BRCA gene specifically. Myriad Genetic's has created a Hereditary Cancer Quiz that anyone can take to assess their risk and to see if genetic screening is something they should look into. Knowing the potential risk can help the healthcare provider and patient make better, more informed decisions about the patient’s health, before the onset of cancer or before a second cancer has a chance to develop. Testing should be considered for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer if:

The Patient:
  • Has had breast cancer at age 50 or younger
  • Has had ovarian cancer at any age
  • Is male and has had breast cancer at any age
  • Is of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and has a personal or family history of breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer*

The Patient’s Family:

  • 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 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
If any of these red flags speak to you and your family history, you can follow the link below and take their specifically designed quiz.

Myriad's Hereditary Cancer Quiz

Love your Favourite Darwinian Fail,