Buddy Check 3

Buddy Check 3

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Buddy Check 3 (Hereditary Breast Cancer)

Updated: Tuesday, March 19 2013, 11:01 AM CDT
ESCAMBIA COUTNY - Each year almost 200-thousand women are diagnosed with breast cancer.

Between five to ten per cent of those women have a hereditary form of the disease.

In the last few years -- some medical testing companies have been advertising tests for breast cancer genes.

In today's Buddy Check Three report, Channel Three's Kathryn Daniel talks with an oncology expert on the emerging concerns and questions surrounding genetic testing for breast cancer....

Doctor Thomas Sunnenberg says three or four patients a day ask him whether they should be tested for the breast cancer gene.

Dr. Thomas Sunnenberg/Medical Director SHH Cancer Center; "But it's information that empowers patients we think. We think for the right people for the right patients, it's a good test."

Sunnenberg says most breast cancer is sporadic and not genetic... So who should have the test??

Breast cancer patients with at least one first degree relative with breast or ovarian cancer...If they test positive for a mutation then their relatives are tested for the same mutation.

If a patient does test positive, they have an increased risk for developing breast cancer .

The test is performed with a simple blood sample...But Sunnenberg says the ramifications of such genetic testing can be complicated.

Dr. Thomas Sunnenberg; "It's a tough discussion, it's tough for the patients and then they got all the relatives and if they're positive for mutations and they've got the relatives who have to have these discussions, the one that are positive, it's a tough daisy chain to talk through, and not everyone's prepared to deal with that information."

The test costs 3,100 dollars for the patient, 300 dollars for each family member.

Not all insurance companies cover the expenses.

Ovarian cancer patient debbie scott recently tested positive for the genetic mutation...She says she was not surprised at the results -- or upset.

Debbie Scott/Ovarian Cancer Patient; "When science makes advances I know a lot of people do have reservations about taking advantage of it. I mean, I'm just like, stay alive until they come up with a cure, you know."

Scott says she will now just be more vigilant about getting regular mammograms.

Scott's daughter Cici Sekhon says she was not personally alarmed by the test results.

CiCi Sekhon/Debbie's daughter; "Honestly, I kinda felt bad for my mom cause I felt like she may feel guilty if I have it, but other than that I was kinda happy cause you know, eventually I'll probably get that test too and it will change what I do."

For people who do test positive, there is a lot than can be done to reduce their risk for breast cancer...Medicine alone can cut the chances by 50 percent...No smoking, limited alcohol and increased exercise help too.

Doctor Sunnenberg says he does not recommend teenagers be tested, he says people should be in their mid 20's at the earliest...And even then, a positive result can be difficult to deal with.

Dr. Thomas Sunnenberg; "Some people cannot handle the fact that they have the gene mutation. So I think before they sign the release and have the blood drawn they have to make that decision."Buddy Check 3 (Hereditary Breast Cancer)

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