Test for women with higher risk of breast cancer

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BRCAnalysis testing can be a valuable tool in determining breast cancer risk.

Used by Franciscan St. James Health, this test is generally administered to women who have a higher chance of inheriting the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Factors include having a first degree relative that developed breast cancer prior to menopause, having any family member who had bilateral breast cancer, or having four or five relatives with breast and ovarian cancer.

Roseanne Krinski, MD, and director of the Franciscan St. James Breast Health and Wellness Center, stressed that testing is not a yes or no issue.

“People sometimes think if you have the gene, you’re automatically going to get breast cancer and that’s not the case. You can have the gene mutation and never develop breast cancer and you can obviously develop breast cancer without the gene,” she said.

Dr. Krinski stressed that genetic counseling is essential before and after testing to be sure all the implications are understood.

“It’s very important for patients to know about the options available if they are gene positive,” Dr. Krinski said.

One option is surveillance through mammography and MRI’s. At Franciscan St. James, a reliable tool is its 3D mammography technology, which delivers more precise images than digital mammograms.

There are also medical approaches such as the drug tamoxifen, which can be used to decrease the risk of breast cancer in women who are gene positive. Surgery is the most radical choice, with some women opting for bilateral prophylactic mastectomy.

“Another thing that’s important to know if you are gene positive, is that you may be at an increased risk of other cancers,” Dr. Krinski added.

Mutations on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes can be associated with ovarian, pancreatic, stomach, colon and other cancers. A positive test result for one or both genes means that some or all of these things must be added to the surveillance.

“Again, this is where genetic counseling comes in,” Dr. Krinski said. “If the test indicates that you have risk for multiple malignancies you have to be appropriately followed.”

The Franciscan St. James Breast Health and Wellness Center is the area’s most complete breast health facility. Its revolutionary team-approach enables Franciscan St. James oncologists, radiologists and surgeons to take full advantage of the latest technologies developed for the diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer.

More information is at www.franciscanalliance.org.

Provided by Franciscan St. James Health