How Genetic Testing Can Help Prevent Breast Cancer
A correlation between a woman’s genes and their chance of developing breast cancer has been established over the years. Contrary to what many believe, it does not just have to be a woman’s family history that increases their risk for this debilitating disease. As it turns out, the genes inherited from one’s father can also be a deciding factor. The article offers advice on how to assess your own genetic profile and talk to your doctor at an early age about breast cancer screening options so that you are as prepared as possible should you develop the condition in the future.
Genetic Testing: What is it?
Genetic testing is a type of medical test that looks at your genes. Your genes are the instructions in your cells that tell them how to function. They’re passed down from your parents and determine things like what color hair and eyes you have.
Some genes also increase your risk for certain diseases, like breast cancer. If you have a family member with breast cancer, it may be because you have the same abnormal gene.
Genetic testing can show if you have an abnormal gene that increases your risk for breast cancer. The test is usually done with a blood or saliva sample. It can also be done with a tissue sample from something like a biopsy.
If you have an abnormal gene, it doesn’t mean you will definitely get breast cancer. But it does mean you have a higher risk than someone who doesn’t have the gene.
If you test positive for an abnormal gene, there are things you can do to lower your risk of getting breast cancer, like:
- Get screenings more often
- Take medicine to lower your risk
- Have surgery to remove breasts or ovaries
You may decide not to do anything after learning you have an increased risk for breast cancer. But it’s important to know so you can make informed decisions about your health care.
Cancer Prevention with Genetic Counseling
Cancer is a scary word. But there are things we can do to lower our risk of getting cancer, and one of those things is genetic counseling.
A lot of cancers are caused by genetic mutations that are passed down from our parents. If we know we have a mutation that makes us more likely to get cancer, we can take steps to prevent it. That’s where genetic counseling comes in.
A genetic counselor will review your family history and help you understand your risk for certain cancers. They can also talk to you about lifestyle changes you can make to lower your risk, and they can help you decide if genetic testing is right for you.
If you have a family history of cancer, or if you’re worried about your risk, talking to a genetic counselor can give you peace of mind and help you take steps to prevent cancer before it starts.