Genetic Testing and Screening
One of the most important things that any woman should do to evaluate her breast health is receive gene testing to check for increased risk of developing breast cancer. This applies especially to those that have had breast cancer before the age of 50, have one or more family that have had breast cancer before the age of 50, have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age, or have a family member who has been identified as carrying one of the key mutated genes associated with breast cancer. These genes are known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (BReast CAncer gene 1 and 2), and mutations in these genes are believed to cause approximately 10% of all known breast cancer cases. It is important to get tested to check for defects in these genes because, although there is no way to “fix” these genes to their normal state, a much better screening and prevention plan may be devised for patients carrying the mutated gene. Additionally, if a patient is found to be carrying a mutated form of the gene, this knowledge may be passed on to other family members to encourage them to undergo testing as well. Genetic tests are generally covered by insurance companies, making this procedure affordable for anyone concerned about their breast health.