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Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer – Should you consider getting one?

A family history of breast cancer is a matter of concern. Know the possible risks and how you can identify the future possibility of the condition through a preventive genetic test.

What is Genetic Testing?
Genetic Testing is a clinical method of taking a peek into your genes. It uses DNA testing to study mutative changes in your genes, chromosomes or protein. It also helps medically diagnose the possibility of an inherited disease such as cancer that might affect your health. There’s no specific Genetic Test that will confirm whether you will have cancer or not. But these tests, definitely, will tell you if you are at a risk of cancer. However, it is also to be noted that any percentage revelation does not guarantee or give a surety of an impending cancer at any age. For instance, if your genetic test result shows you at a 45% to 65% chance of cancer, you might not develop it in the future; but a test case with 25% risk might develop the disease. So, you cannot rule out any risk percentage.

Purpose of Genetic tests in Breast Cancer
The genes BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutate and increase the risks of breast cancer. A BRCA gene test is done to identify the future risks. This is a blood test to analyse the DNA and identify any harmful mutations in either of these two genes.BRCA2 is responsible for the healthy growth of breast cells and prevent any cancer risk. But at times, these genes have abnormal mutations present in them (passed on from generations) increasing the risk of breast cancer. Studies have shown that 1 out of every 10 breast cancer cases account from an abnormal gene.

Angelina Jolie and her tryst with Genetic Testing

The news of Oscar-winner, humanitarian Angelina Jolie undergoing a double mastectomy back in 2013, had taken the world by storm. Many applauded her for her bold health decision while others shamed her decision as a sheer stupidity. Incase, you have forgotten why exactly she decided a surgical removal of her breasts, here’s a quick recap. Through genetic testing, she found out that she is at a high risk of breast cancer. To avert the pain and medical hassles of cancer treatment, she took charge of her health by taking a very controversial decision. She shared her decision with the world as an awareness message to be aware of the medical history of family.

When should you consider taking a genetic testing for Breast Cancer?

As much as it got the world talking about cancer awareness, there are a few points to be kept in mind before you rush for a genetic testing. Let’s take a look:

  • A family member with breast cancer at age 45 or younger
  • A family member with ovarian cancer, irrespective of age
  • A same side family history of both ovarian and breast cancer
  • A family history of bilateral breast cancer
  • A family history of male breast cancer

Visit an oncologist if you have a medical history of cancer running in your family under any of the following circumstances. Your doctor will be able to help you better with a preventive genetic test measure.

You could also check for physical symptoms like lumps in your breast. Another preventive test measure would be regular mammography as prescribed by your doctor.


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