You may ask, why would anyone get tested for inherited cancer genes? Why would anyone want to know that they were at an increased risk of developing cancer? Because with knowledge of inherited cancer genes, we can intervene before the cancer occurs.
As a gynecologist, the inherited cancer genes we most commonly deal with are BRCA 1 and 2 genes as well as Lynch syndrome. The BRCA 1 and 2 genes, when inherited, can increase a woman’s (or man’s) risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer from 10-12% at baseline to up to 50 to 80% for breast cancer and from less than 2 % risk of developing ovarian cancer to up to 50%.
Persons with inherited Lynch syndrome have higher risks of developing colorectal cancer as well endometrial (uterine), stomach, breast, ovarian, small bowel (intestinal), pancreatic, prostate, urinary tract, liver, kidney, and bile duct cancers. Knowledge of carrying the genes can allow for earlier screening and earlier detection which leads to a higher rate of survivorship
How do you know if you need to be tested? You should compile a history of any cancer in your family, knowing which type of cancer, which side of the family and most importantly the AGE of diagnosis. The holidays are a perfect time to do this as families are gathered and it is easier to obtain this information. Present this information to a doctor who understands and offers inherited cancer screening and testing to see if it should be screened by obtaining a blood or saliva sample. Speaking with a Genetic Counselor can also help you determine if you need to be testing for an inherited cancer gene
Here at Lotus Gynecology, Health and Wellness, we believe knowledge is power. We do not operate from a place of fear but empowerment and we would love to help you through your journey in health.