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How much bigger risk do I have in getting breast or ovarian cancer since I have a family history of it?

By June 24, 2014 - 6:08pm
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My Grandmother had skin cancer at age 30, breast cancer at 45 and finally ovarian cancer at 70 which she passed away from.

I've heard about the BRAC1 & BRAC2 genes, should I be getting tested for them now? 

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HERWriter Guide

Hi saradietz

Thanks for your post! 

I'm sorry for your grandmother's illnesses, it looks like she battled cancer most of her life. 

Getting the BRCA tests is not an easy decision because the results can be so life-altering. Some women want to know, others opt for watchful-waiting. 

For women who elect these tests and have a positive result, they certainly have the option of watchful waiting (regular testing included) or they have the option of getting a double mastectomy and/or a complete hysterectomy.  This can almost eliminate their risk whereas they are often "more likely than not" to get cancer if they don't. 

But this still doesn't mean these radical surgeries are easy. A woman will have both breasts amputated and will go into full menopause and her chance of pregnancy are zero. These are really serious she needs to think about and should definitely get counselling about. 

That National Cancer Institute recommends testing for those with family members who have a history of reproductive cancers before age 50, cancer in multiple reproductive organs, cases of male breast cancer and for women of Ashkenazi descent. 

Sarah, about 12% of women will get breast cancer, but if you test positive for the gene, it goes up to 45%-55%. This is pretty significant. 

Lastly, a few things to think about: can you afford the testing? It could cost a couple of thousand dollars.  Will your health insurance cover it? Also, will you be denied life insurance if your test positive? 

Will you have a negative emotional reaction to the results and do you have a support system ready?

There are many factors to think about. Testing is better done sooner than later. 

Read more about this testing here: 


Good luck  - I know this isn't easy. 



June 25, 2014 - 11:29am
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