Genetic testing for breast cancer gene - WRBL

Genetic testing for breast cancer gene

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Actress Angelina Jolie caught international attention by going public with her decision to have both breasts removed to prevent cancer.

Morton Plant Oncologist Dr. Peter Blumencranz applauds her decision. "I think it's a great positive thing. We deal with BRCA 1 and 2 mutation carriers fairly frequently. This has been around since the 90's and only gotten more popular lately," said Blumencranz.

The BRACA or breast cancer susceptibility gene test detects whether a person has a mutation on 1 or 2 genes. While the general population has a 2% risk of getting breast cancer by age 50, those with the BRCA mutation have a 50% chance. The odds increase to 87% by age 70.

Dr. Blumencranz said only about 5% of all breast cancer patients would test positive for the gene mutation, so he only recommends the testing for those who have high risk factors.

Those risk factors include personal or family history of:

- breast cancer before age 50

- ovarian cancer

-male breast cancer

-women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent

Marie Venida was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 37. The nurse at Largo Medical Center chose to have a double mastectomy to prevent a re-occurrence. Helping her make the decision was that she tested positive for the gene mutation. "That's not for everybody, because image is very challenging for some people and that's their image. For me, I'd rather be around," said Venida.

Most insurance covers the DNA test for high risk patients.

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