Monday, November 14, 2016

Genetic Testing After Breast Cancer Diagnosis

Picture of the Breast Cancer Symbol

People thought that cancer before was just one single disease, but now we are starting to understand the unique qualities of an individual's cancer compared to someone else's. It goes beyond the type of cancer as well because on breast cancer for example could be different than another breast cancer. With individualized treatment plans there also come a lot of different tests one can take to be screened or checked.
"With the ever growing number of tests available, which tests really matter? For women diagnosed with breast cancer, two types of genetic tests that can be especially important are genetic testing of the person for BRCA 1/2 mutations and genomic testing of the cancer, such as the Oncotype DX test."
To find out if you need chemotherapy, people use the Oncotype DX test. Before, it was thought chemotherapy treats cancer, but not all chemo treatments are successful at treating certain cancers. This test gives measurements based on the recurrence of cancer. Another type of test that matters is the BRCA 1/2 gene test. This is more of a preventative measure and to try to see if you are at high risk or not in developing cancer. An abnormality in this gene could help doctors develop a special plan for a breast cancer patient, or be able to tell low risk patients that there isn't much to worry about now.
"Everyone has BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. The function of the BRCA genes is to repair cell damage and keep breast, ovarian, and other cells growing normally. But when these genes contain abnormalities or mutations that are passed from generation to generation, the genes don't function normally and breast, ovarian, and other cancer risk increases. Abnormal BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may account for up to 10% of all breast cancers, or 1 out of every 10 cases." 
I think that it is wonderful that our genetic testing has become more accurate in the past years. We are able to adjust our treatment plans from the past in order to help save more lives and we are able to educate the populous about cancer and how the solution isn't as easy as some make it to be. It is hard to help someone with cancer because it is so individual and specific to them, two different things might have caused even two cancers in the same person. Either way, it's great that genetics is impacting cancer research and most likely impacting parenthood in knowing how their children may be affected if they inherit the gene.

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