I felt like Sherlock Holmes last week. A young 27 year old female came to my office for testing of a hereditary gene she might be carrying that puts her at a dramatically increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, known as the BRAC gene. Her mother related to me me a history of ovarian cancer at a young age in her mother, and when I tested her she was positive for the gene and subsequently underwent a hysterectomy and her risk is gone! The daughter told me after I discuss her risks that her mother’s brother and one other sister were found to be positive for the gene as well. Amazing! That puts 3 family members at risk, and maybe 4 if the 27 year old daughter is positive as well. This all came about because I asked one simple question to the mother: “Is there anyone in your family that has had breast, uterine, ovarian, or colon cancer?” The answer resulted in detecting 3 relatives with potentially lethal genes that will now be spared the horrific diagnosis of cancer. Family history is so important and critical that every patient I see, I ask about cancers in their family; and believe me, there is an amazing amount out there!. But, if you don’t ask, they won’t tell, and what you don’t know can kill you!
This is the age of the genome; your fate is encoded in your genes and a new wonderful product know as MyRisk is a simple blood test developed by Myriad Genectics which screens for 25 genes that may put you at increased risk for breast, ovarian, uterine, colon, pancreatic, stomach and prostate cancer. The next time you see your doctor for your annual check-up, be sure and tell him or her your family history. A quick and simple blood test may save not only your life, but your family members as well. Knowledge is power, and armed with this information, you don’t have to worry or have a nagging fear of contracting a deadly cancer. Be smart and proactive-the clues are there, waiting to be exposed by someone who has the knowledge and power to dramatically change your life for the better!
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