Q. My mother recently passed away from breast cancer, and now I am a 19-year-old teen who is worried that the cancerous genes have been transferred to me. Can you please clarify if they do?
Many families impacted by cancer have questions about genetics and genetic testing. There are many genetic tests available today which can indicate an increased risk for cancer. The BRCA mutation is one of those genes linked to breast and ovarian cancers, but it is also important to note that the BRCA mutation accounts for a small percentage of overall breast cancers.
If you have any questions or concerns about genetic testing, it’s best to discuss these with your primary care physician or a genetic counselor. At CancerCare, we are a staff of social workers, not medical providers, so I cannot provide specific medical guidance or treatment/testing suggestions. What I can share generally is that genetic testing (including the BRCA test and others) can potentially have a physical, emotional, and financial impact on the individual being tested as well as their family members. For this reason, it is always encouraged that you speak to your medical team as well as a genetic counselor prior to being tested so that appropriate guidance can be provided about what the test results may mean for you and your family.
This is a very important topic, and it is understandable that genetic testing may raise questions and concerns. For additional information on genetic mutations and hereditary cancers or to speak to a genetic counselor for preliminary guidance, you may want to contact FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered). They can be reached by phone at 866-288-7475 or emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.