Genetic Testing for Cancer
With the many breakthroughs in cancer research over the last several decades, one of the most significant is the ability to test a person’s risk of developing it. Since some kinds of cancer, including breast cancer, appear to be hereditary, genetic testing may serve as an advantage when thinking about specific health risks and visiting a doctor. As part of the overall process of beginning to comprehend how breast cancer can affect our patients’ families, our experienced team of plastic and reconstructive surgeons at Long Island Plastic Surgical Group is prepared to discuss all options available in preparation for the possibility of breast cancer. As we create a treatment plan with our patients, the benefits of an all-encompassing approach to cancer treatment, including preparation for the unthinkable, affords our surgeons the ability to take an aggressive, proactive path to the successful treatment of a disease that affects more than 210,000 women every year in the United States.
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Identifying Risks for Developing Cancer
In recent years, tests have become available that allow doctors to screen patients and determine their risk for developing certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. These tests are by no means conclusive evidence that cancer will develop; however, they can supply an idea of the patient’s potential for developing cancer later in life based on various genetic factors. Therefore, many patients choose to have genetic testing for cancer in order to start taking steps that may help them reduce the risk. For patients looking to identify their risk for breast cancer, or any other form of cancer, an educational consultation with a general practitioner, a geneticist, or one of our LIPSG plastic surgeons is the first step in addressing hereditary concerns associated with heightened risks for developing cancer.
While having a family history of cancer cannot conclusively predict the likelihood of the future development of cancer, there are several important factors in determining the levels of risk associated with a particular family’s past incidence of any type of cancer, including breast cancer. Two key indicators that can predict the existence of a significant risk for developing breast cancer concern close family members and the age at which the disease developed.
A close family member is someone related by blood, within the first degree of familial relationships; for example, if a patient’s mother, father, grandparent, siblings, aunts or uncles have been affected by breast cancer, they have an increased risk of developing the disease. If the breast cancer occurred in the close family member before the age of 50, the patient carries an even greater genetic disposition toward developing breast cancer.
Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer
The genetic structure is the basic set of instructions that directs every facet of the human body, from a person’s eye color to their height. Some genes become altered during the development process, or are inherited in their altered state, and can affect the future health of a close family member by making them more susceptible to a particular disease. Such is the case with a wide percentage of families with a history of certain types of cancer, including breast cancer. Currently, the increased risk has been narrowed down to two particular genes: Breast Cancer Gene 1 and 2, or BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Through genetic testing, specialized medical practitioners are able to assess a patient’s risk for breast cancer based on the inherited alterations to the BRCA1 and BRCA2. While the absence or existence of alterations to these genes does not provide a definitive answer as to whether a patient will eventually develop breast cancer, the test results can help inform their decisions and provide answers to help prepare the patient and their family for the future.
If it is determined that a patient has a known mutation to either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, our experienced surgeons at LIPSG are prepared to help our patients understand the findings, while making educated decisions on what they can do to help reduce the overall risk of developing breast cancer. With a collaborative approach, involving all aspects of treatment ranging from our patients and surgeons, to their geneticist and doctors, we will develop a proactive treatment plan to ensure our patients and their families are aware of every option while addressing any and all questions or concerns.