Breast Cancer and Genetic Testing

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Quick GuideBreast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

Should I Be Tested for Genetic Mutations?

You may want to discuss genetic testing with your doctor if any of the following scenarios apply to you:

  • You have two or more blood relatives -- mother, sister, aunt, cousin, or daughter -- with premenopausal breast cancer or ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age.
  • You have been diagnosed with breast cancer, especially if it was diagnosed before you reached menopause, you have a blood relative with breast or ovarian cancer, or if you cancer in both breasts.
  • You have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and you have blood relatives who have had ovarian or breast cancer.
  • You are related to someone (male or female) who has a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
  • You are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and you have blood relatives who have had breast or ovarian cancer, or you have had breast or ovarian cancer.

What Are my Options if I Have a "Cancer Gene?"

Women in high-risk categories (first-degree relative with breast cancer, personal history of breast cancer, prior abnormal breast biopsy results with atypical ductal hyperplasia or lobular carcinoma in situ) and carriers of the genes associated with breast cancer may want to consider starting regular breast cancer screening at age 25 or 10 years earlier than the age of the youngest person with breast cancer at the time of their diagnosis.

Some women choose preventive (prophylactic) mastectomy to decrease the chances of developing breast cancer, although this doesn't offer complete protection.

Another approach includes using the anti-estrogen drug tamoxifen or raloxifene (also known as Evista), a drug used to treat osteoporosis, to help prevent development of breast cancer.

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