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HEALTHWATCH: Genetic testing for certain cancers

Updated: Wednesday, October 23 2013, 07:17 PM CDT
Most cancers are *not* inherited but a small percentage of patients with breast or ovarian cancer did get the cancer genetically.
    
The doctor may recommend genetic testing if you meet these criteria..

If you have breast cancer at age 50 or younger.
Have ovarian cancer at any age,
Have two primary breast cancers,
Male breast cancer,
Triple negative breast cancer
Pancreatic cancer or have Ashkenazi Jewish Ancestry or have two or more relatives with breast cancer.

More patients and their children are getting tested for the breast cancer genes.

Lori Farmer is an Advanced Practice Nurse in genetics at Sacred Heart Hospital. She's noticed a trend when it comes to people who are asking for breast cancer genetic testing.  More men are seeking her help.

"I've had a couple of 'em just in the last month."
Male breast cancer is rare -- just one per cent of cases are found in men.

But the children -- male or female --  of genetic  breast cancer patients have a 50 per cent risk of carrying and passing on -- the breast cancer genes.

""It's your son's too, males who inherit this have an increased risk or prostate cancer as well as male breast cancer."))

Farmer says people should look at both sides of the family tree for breast cancer patterns.

"Not just on your mama's side.  If you have a lot of breast cancer that meets this criteria and it's on your fathers side, it certainly would warrant coming in and being tested as well."

Farmer is also a breast cancer survivor -- and the daughter of a survivor. 
She's also a mother -- and opted to get tested to see if she carried the breast cancer genes.

"For my children, they're males  but they still have that same 50 per cent risk cause males can carry this as well."

Farmer tested negative for genetic breast cancer -- she says knowing that was a huge relief.

"I was.  That's probably the only time I wept, I think.  Just because knowing your not gonna pass that on to your children."

Farmer says patients who  do test positive for the genes often deal with anxiety and guilt.  But they usually move on to proactive measures like increased surveillance and checkups surgeries or medicine.

"Option to consider chemo prevention.  For example, Tomaxofin is one of the medicines that can be given to individuals who carry this mutation to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer."

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HEALTHWATCH: Genetic testing for certain cancers


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