Knowing Your Family History Saves Lives

BRCA gene mutations are in the news since Angelina Jolie and the media put genetic testing out in the mainstream.  Genetic Susceptibility Testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancers (HBOC) has been available about 13 years. Individuals with harmful heredity BRCA gene mutations are at increased risk to develop breast and ovarian cancers.

Only 5-10 percent of all breast and ovarian cancers are hereditary ─ 90 percent are not. Therefore most people diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, do not need to be tested. If you meet the criteria, you can have the test and learn if you are a carrier. A harmful genetic mutation can be inherited from either your father or your mother

Among those considered at increased risk for HBOC are people who have the following risk factors which include but are not limited to:

  • A previously indentified BRCA mutation in the family.
  • Breast cancer diagnosed at age 50 or younger.
  • Ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age.
  • Individual with two primary breast cancers diagnoses, the first diagnosed under 50 years
  • Male breast cancer.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer.
  • Pancreatic cancer with breast or ovarian cancer.
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with an HBOC-associated cancer.
  • Diagnosed at any age with breast cancer, with one relative diagnosed with breast cancer, at/or under 50 years or epithelial ovarian cancer.
  • Three or more relatives with breast cancer at any age.

Research indicates that women who carry a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation have a 70-80 percent risk of developing breast cancer and a 25-50 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer. Preventive breast surgery can drop the breast cancer risk 90 percent and preventive ovarian surgery can drop the ovarian cancer risk 96 percent.  Men who test positive have a higher risk of developing breast or prostate cancer. Knowing that you have a harmful BRCA mutation can be lifesaving for you and your family.

If you are concerned about your risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, contact the Baptist Health Breast Center’s Genetic Risk Education Service at 786-662-4761 for more information or to schedule an appointment.


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With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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