Our expert voices conversation on genetic testing for cancer.
Most people who have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to cancer don’t know it. They also aren’t aware they could act on that knowledge and make choices that could save their life. A seemingly ideal solution would be to make cancer genetic tests a primary care routine for all adults.
Here’s the problem: Genetic testing is imperfect and genetic care is still in its infancy.
A real solution: Prevention. Gain knowledge of your family’s cancer history. Stop smoking. Limit how much alcohol you drink. Exercise regularly. Get vaccinated.
Bottom line: Even without knowing our genetic test result, we can make concrete choices to help avert a future cancer.
The other voices in the conversation:
In her new book, “A Cancer in the Family: Take Control of your Genetic Inheritance,” Dr. Theodora Ross addresses how our family’s medical history plays a role in our health. To shed some light on the genetics of cancer, as well as genetic counseling, Ross spoke with “Take Care” to explain the importance of knowing your family history.
A couple of weeks ago, we published Distinct Brca1 Mutations Differentially Reduce Hematopoietic Stem Cell Function by Theo Ross and her colleagues at UT Southwestern. Dr. Ross is a great example of a scientist who is doing both. She’s the author of a popular book about cancer, and she’s unafraid to say what’s on her mind.
Hidden cameras and the beauty of the scientific method.
“We don’t have enough genetic counselors. We don’t have enough doctors who understand genetics. So when people get genetic tests, they think, ‘Oh, it’s done. I’ve done it. I’m fine.’ But it’s not. It’s not a single event.
Can a blood test for cancer be a dangerous proposition? Depends on the test.
For one ovarian cancer patient, let’s call her Emily, treatment based on blood test results led to her premature death.
Can genetic testing help mitigate cancer risk? (Washington Post Live)
My sister, Bea, was 35 years old when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, and 38 years old when she died in 1993. She left behind a husband, two toddlers and, innocently, a genetic legacy that our family continues to confront today.
Reading books for emotional support can help you overcome dark days, uplift your spirits and even prompt new perspectives and help you focus on the big picture, physicians say.
If you are dealing with breast cancer, you can find authoritative health guides, patient-centered guides, memoirs and novels.
All cancers are caused by genetic mutations, but not all genetic mutations are inherited. When the genes that suppress runaway cell growth don’t function correctly, cells divide uncontrollably and clump together in a tumor. That’s what we call cancer. In most cases of breast cancer, these genes turn faulty because of some environmental factor, like smoking or too much radiation. Other times, though, you inherit a copy from your parents. That’s an inherited mutation.