While the majority of individuals diagnosed with breast cancer have no family history of the disease, those who do have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may have inherited one of the abnormal genes linked to a high risk of breast cancer.
The most commonly known abnormal genes are BRCA1, BRCA2, and PALB2. Because scientists have linked these genes to a high risk of breast cancer, knowing whether you have one in your DNA can help you begin preventative measures and keep you and your doctor alert for the early signs of breast cancer. Catching cancer early on can often make a tremendous difference in the extent and success of treatments.
Genetic testing for breast cancer is a simple procedure that involves providing a blood or saliva sample that will then be analyzed for these abnormalities in the genes. If you think you or another family member should be tested, the first step is to talk with a genetic counselor, who can then analyze your family’s situation and determine the best way to move forward. That said, if you fall into any of these categories, it would be prudent to get tested:
- If some of the women in your family have had cancer in both breasts.
- If a man in your family has had breast cancer.
- If either a man or a woman in your family has tested positive for an abnormal breast cancer gene.
- If other kinds of cancer, including prostate, thyroid, colon, melanoma, and pancreatic cancer, have appeared in your family.
- If a member of your family has been diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50.
If you test positive for an abnormal breast cancer gene, your adult children and siblings should also be tested, for they may test positive as well. Testing positive does not mean that you have breast cancer. It simply means that you have a gene that has been linked to a high risk of breast cancer. If you test positive, it’s a good idea to schedule regular mammograms, continuously check for lumps in your breasts, and maintain a conversation with your doctor about your risk of breast cancer.
How does the AiRS Foundation fit in?
At the AiRS Foundation, we help women who’ve had mastectomies due to breast cancer receive reconstruction. If you or a loved one does not have sufficient funds to cover the procedure, please contact us!. Applying for a grant is easy. All you have to do is fill out this application!