Thursday, February 24, 2011

WHO SHOULD BE TESTED?

I have had quite a few people ask me if they or who should be tested for the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation and I wanted to share the answer to this question with those of you who have asked.  You may have seen in the past 6 months commercials on televison about BRCA Analysis, which is the testing available for BRCA1 and BRCA2 through the Myriad Genetic Laboratories.  These gene mutations affect BOTH women and men and carry risks for both of them. So, ANY adult who can answer yes to at least one of the following questions should be tested:

1. Someone in your family has had breast cancer before the age of 50
2. Someone in your family, of any age, has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer
3. Multiple people in the same side of your family have been diagnosed with breast cancer
4. Any male in your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer at any age

I can answer "yes" to all four of these questions.  Even if one of these are "yes" for you, you should consider being tested.  If the person or persons in your family who have cancer are still alive, they should be tested first if they are willing, but anyone can be tested.  The information above is from a packet I received from the Myriad Genetic Labratories, the only lab in the US who processes the BRCA Analysis tests.  If you feel you should be tested, I would recommend that you call your primary care physician's office and ask about testing.  The test is a simple blood test that most doctor's offices have or definitely can get the test. It is sent off to the Myriad lab and your results come back in about 2 weeks.  The tests are not cheap since Myriad has a monopoly, but health insurances should cover part of the costs.  My insurance paid about 20% of the cost and then I have to pay $300 for the BRCA 1 single site test.  You can choose to have the full comprehensive test done for both BRCA1 and BRCA2 or do one of the two single site analysis.  The full comprehensive test costs well over 1,000, so if you knew which type of gene mutation you may have, it is best to just do that specific test.  Part of the new health care bill passed last year is supposed to ensure that anyone in the US has access to this test and access to affordable or free genetic counseling about your options for prevention.  Good websites to check out about BRCA1 and BRCA 2 testing are:  http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA, http://www.bracnow.com/, http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/brca-gene-test/MY00322

If anyone has any questions about this, feel free to ask me!

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