Assessing Cancer Risk with Genetic Testing



A cancer diagnosis can be a frightful and devastating experience. According to the National Cancer Institute, 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016, with the five most common being breast, lung, prostate, colon and rectum, and bladder. Additionally, melanoma, endometrial and pancreatic cancer are ranked in the top 15 of new cancer cases.

       The U.S. Cancer Statistics Working Group states the most common cancer among women of all races, and the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in women, is breast cancer. Lung and colorectal cancer come in as the most common cancers in women and contribute to the leading causes of deaths among women.

Genetics and Cancer

Cancer itself is a harmful mutation, or change, in the DNA. All cells continually change, and if the change causes a mistake, the body typically repairs itself. But with cancer, the mutation continues without repair and is harmful to cell growth. Most cancers are random and develop more frequently with age, but up to 10 percent of cancers are inherited, and increase a person’s chance of not only getting cancer, but developing it earlier in life. Biological family members are those that matter when looking at our inherited genetic family history.

       Knowing if we carry an inherited mutation can provide us and our healthcare provider assistance in making better and more informed decisions about future screenings for early cancer detection and treatment options if cancer were to be detected.

BRCA Gene

In 1994, the first BRCA1, or breast cancer gene, was discovered, and the second, BRCA2, in 1995. BRCA genes are inherited mutations that increase a woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Both of these cancers, when associated with BRCA mutations, tend to occur earlier in a woman’s life. The BRCA gene can be inherited from either the mother or father, and this is why screening questionnaires look at both sides of a family. It is estimated that 55 to 65 percent of women that inherit a BRCA mutation will develop breast cancer by the age of 70, and up to 39 percent will develop ovarian cancer by age 70. Having a BRCA mutation can also lead to an increased risk of having other cancers, such as peritoneal and cancer in the fallopian tubes.

       The BRCA gene is not specific to women. Men with family risk factors should also be advised that having the BRCA gene increases a man’s risk for not only breast cancer, but prostate and pancreatic cancers. Additionally, families of Ashkenazi Jewish descent have a higher prevalence of BRCA mutations than other people in the U.S.

Genetic Testing

In 2013, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended women that have family members with breast, ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer be evaluated to see if they have a family history that is associated with an increased risk of a harmful mutation in one of these genes. After meeting specific criteria for family cancer screening questions, genetic testing is available in the forms of a simple blood or saliva test. It is imperative to use a reputable and established genetic testing laboratory for genetic testing.

       Perhaps the gold standard in genetic screening, Myriad (Myriad.com) has developed one of the most comprehensive programs for testing both women and their male relatives for hereditary cancer risk. The company has more than 25 years of experience, as well as 99.98 percent accuracy in tests results. Myriad is a dedicated and committed company with the latest in pioneering research and development of innovative molecular diagnostic tests. Their myRisk Hereditary cancer test is a 28-gene panel that screens not only for the BRCA gene, but includes a variety of other genetic mutations which are associated with breast and ovarian cancers, as well as colon, endometrial, lung, melanoma, pancreatic and  prostate cancers, and rheumatoid arthritis.

Leta M. Vaughan, DNP, CNM, is a nurse practitioner with WomancarePC, which offers the Myriad myRisk Hereditary cancer test, as well as other screenings. For an appointment, call 847-221-4800 or visit WomanCarePC.com. For more information about BRCA, visit Cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/genetics/brca-fact-sheet.

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

More from Natural Awakenings

Eating Healthy Without Digestive Discomfort

Summer is the time of year when more of us experience seasonal allergies, and what we choose to eat can have a direct effect on how our bodies respond to environmental allergens.

Protective Strategies

Many people suffer from allergies both mild and severe, with ragweed specifically and pollen in general at the top of the list.

Three Ways to Improve

More women are thinking about starting families later in life and have difficulty conceiving. Many commonly heard reasons for infertility include extended use of birth control, advanced age, a hormone imbalance, stress and others.

PSYCHOTRONICS

Our minds are very powerful, and we can we direct our intention to make nourishing change, assist sick animals or persons or improve agricultural crop yields. However, most of us are not using our full capabilities to manifest positive effects in the world.

Top Tips

We know it’s coming, yet we still get caught in the feeling of overwhelm at the end of the school year. Too many things are going on at once—sporting events, dance and music recitals, Memorial Day celebrations, graduations and preparing for camp or vacation.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags

See More »This Month

Letter from Publisher

This morning, I made an exciting discovery in our garden’s small milkweed plants, as my eyes caught a chewing pattern that repeated across several leaves—could it be?

Schools Adopting Good Food Purchasing Policy

The Chicago Public School Board has voted to adopt the Good Food Purchasing Program, which will mean better nutrition for 380,000 students.

Roasted Summer Vegetable Pasta Salad

Farmers’ markets are full of the bounty of the Midwest now.

Assessing Cancer Risk with Genetic Testing

A cancer diagnosis can be a frightful and devastating experience. According to the National Cancer Institute, 1,685,210 new cases of cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2016, with the five most common being breast, lung, prostate, colon and rectum, and bladder.

Akashic Records Course in Indianapolis

Bill Foss and the Higher Dimensions Network will present the course Journey to the Akashic Records from August 25 to 27 at the Omni Severin Hotel, in Indianapolis.

Event to Investigate the Impact of Factory Farming in Illinois

Nonprofit Crate Free Illinois will host an event at noon, August 25, at Nana’s Organic, to call attention to the growing impact of Illinois’ concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) on animal welfare and the environment, and showcase their recent petition to the Maschhoffs—the state’s largest factory farmer—to eliminate its use of gestation crates.