Breast cancer & your family history

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October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Many experts say the best treatment is prevention and early detection and that includes knowing your risk. Our Debby Knox is here to explain how genetic counseling can go a long way in keeping you and loved ones healthy.

About 5% to 10% of all cancer is hereditary and that includes breast cancer.  Doctors say, the most important step you can take is knowing your family history. If you have a family history of breast cancer, it’s a good idea to talk to your doctor and see if reaching out to a genetic counselor is a good idea.

Genetic testing typically involves a simple blood draw or saliva sample. The samples are sent out to a lab and results come back in two to three weeks. The genetic counselors then make recommendations based on the results. The genes sometimes referred to as the braca genes can play a role in breast cancer development, but there are other red flags to look out for.

Those include: a history of breast cancer in your family before the age of 45 or 50, ovarian cancer at any age, men developing breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer at any age.

Certain ethnicities are also more at risk than others, so bottom line, knowing your family history is important. It’s important to point out, most genes associated with cancer do not make your risk 100%. And it doesn’t mean you’re doomed. It just means you should do regular checks so you can treat it early if you do develop breast cancer.

Franciscan Health is staffed with a genetic counselor who can help you identify your hereditary risk of developing breast cancer.

You can find more information at the link below.

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