The importance of getting an annual mammogram is one of the key messages of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. For some women, genetic testing can also play a big role in detecting breast cancer and saving lives.
Some genetic mutations can greatly increase a woman's chances of getting breast cancer.
Mutations of BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can be passed down through a mother or a father. A BRCA mutation is the single, biggest risk factor for breast cancer.
A woman who carries one of these gene mutations has the following chances for breast cancer:
- 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer in her lifetime
- 50 percent risk of getting breast cancer by age 50
- 64 percent chance of getting breast cancer twice in a lifetime
“Genetic testing provides another layer in our efforts to detect breast cancer early so treatment can begin earlier," said Aimee Griffin, Director of The Breast Center at Floyd and Director of Imaging Services at Floyd.
“Genetics can play such a big role in the possible development of breast cancer, and it's important for woman to understand there are steps they can take to cut down on that risk," Griffin continued.
Genetic breast cancer risks include:
- You are a female who was diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 50.
- You are a male who was diagnosed with breast cancer at any age.
- Your mother, sister, daughter, grandmother or aunt had breast cancer before age 50 or ovarian cancer at any age.
- A close male relative was diagnosed with breast cancer.
Women who know they carry the mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can take steps to manage their cancer risks, including: more frequent, detailed cancer screenings and exams; taking certain drugs to prevent, delay or reduce the risks of cancer; and elective, radical surgery.
While BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 are the most widely known genetic alterations that impact a woman's risk for breast and ovarian cancer, there are many other types of genetic alterations that can put a woman (or a man) at increased risk for breast cancer. The nurse practitioners at The Breast Center at Floyd are all graduates of City of Hope's Clinical Cancer Genetics program, and are specially trained in genetic evaluation, counseling, and testing and can help you and your family understand your cancer risk.
For more information about counseling or genetic testing, contact The Breast Center at Floyd at 706.509.6840.