Do You Know Your Breast Cancer Risk? - NECN

Do You Know Your Breast Cancer Risk?



    Gene mutation testing has been in the news since actress Angelina Jolie announced her double mastectomy (Published Thursday, Feb. 20, 2014)

    (NECN/WRC: Doreen Gentzler) - Do you know your breast cancer risk? Gene mutation testing has been in the news since actress Angelina Jolie announced her double mastectomy.

    “I always remember my mom saying, 'if I had known that I had this mutation, I could have maybe done something to prevent getting breast cancer,' and that was very powerful for me," says Lorna Dressendorfer, who has the BRCA gene.

    She says, for her, it was a no brainer to get tested for mutations in the BRCA gene.

    "What's right for me is to be proactive. I don't ever want to hear, 'Lorna, you have breast cancer.'"

    And after actress Angelina Jolie shared her own story, specific details on her decision to get a preventive double mastectomy after learning she had the BRCA mutation, more women may be inspired to go through with testing.

    "We've gotten about 40 calls or inquiries from women who are interested in testing and it sounds like for most of these women, they have been contemplating that at some point in the past and they never moved forward for it," says Beth Peshkin, a genetic counselor.

    Peshkin says testing isn't for everyone. According to guidelines, only those at high risk for BRCA mutations should be screened. That includes those with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, a family member with a BRCA mutation, being of eastern European Jewish descent with a family history of cancer, as well as a male relative with breast cancer.

    "For anyone who is considered about their risks, collect the family history, document it, share it with your physician, see if genetic counseling is appropriate and view that as the first step in a journey," says Peshkin.

    Dressendorfer was positive for a BRCA mutation. Like Jolie, she decided to undergo a double mastectomy.

    "I wouldn't change my life for a moment, being BRCA positive, having the mutation, it's part of who I am."