Knowing your risk of certain cancers through a test

Hearing that you have cancer is devastating

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ut imagine that you heard you have a high risk of developing cancer


What would you do?

There are tests available that can accurately measure your risk of developing cancer.

Film actress Angelina Jolie decided to have a double mastectomy after test results indicated she has an 87% chance of developing breast cancer.

This test looks for the mutated genes BRCA 1 and BRCA 2.

Oncologist Amjad Ali says these genes are indicators for a high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.

"If you have this gene mutation, chances of having breast cancer in lifetime is around 50 to 87 percent range. On the other hand ovarian cancer is somewhere closer to 20 to 45 percent range," said Ali.

Blessing Hospital has this test available. Ali says this is an expensive test, but is generally covered by health insurance.

He says there are a few things to look out for to know if you should take this test.

"Patients who fall into this category: younger age, triple negative breast cancer, Ashkenazis jewish population, or a strong family history. They should be considered for the testing," said Ali.

The test is only the beginning.

If you do test positive for the gene, what is your next option?

"I personally would go for a double mastectomy as well as the bilateral oophorectomy based on a high risk of getting both breast and ovarian cancer if I was found to have this," Oncology Resource Coordinator Ashley Pollock said.

Ali said it is uncommon that people have this gene. He said the likelihood of someone possessing the mutated gene is less than one percent. He said having a mastectomy lowers the risk of developing cancer, but doesn't eliminate it entirely.

Only two of his patients have tested positive.