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YOU should consider genetic testing. Now.

Updated: Aug 11, 2023

Many healthy adults are a ticking (genetic) time bomb.

As a licensed and certified genetic counselor, it seems obvious to me that The Boob Bus should combine genetic testing with screening mammography for a more comprehensive cancer assessment. Most people have heard of the "Bra-Kuh" gene, but did you know that there are MANY of these genes?

The Angelina Jolie Effect

If you are a science person, feel free to read the deets here. But for those of you who want the abridged version, here goes....

About a decade ago, Angelina told that world that she opted for a "risk-reducing bilateral mastectomy" after learning that she carried a harmful genetic variant in the BRCA1 gene. She learned this during the course of her mother's breast cancer treatment. To many, Angelina's decision seemed extreme. But now, we applaud her for taking control of her own healthcare. You see, women with harmful variants in BRCA1 have more than 6x the chance of breast cancer compared to the average woman (~80% compared to ~12%). Oh, and more than 30x the chance of ovarian cancer compared to the average woman (~40% compared to ~1.3%). Once you know the facts, it seems extreme not to make the choice Angelina did.

Obviously, we all know who Angie is. And thanks to her incredibly smart, brave decision, thousands of women are aware of this testing process and have avoided breast and/or ovarian cancer (hence, the "Angelina Jolie Effect). Hat's off to you, AJ!

So Many Genes

Ok, so now you get the "jist" of the BRCA1 gene. But there is also a BRCA2 gene. And genes named ATM, CHEK2, PALB, and TP53 (to name a few). And I like to say that there is a BRCA3 gene, which means we haven't identified it yet, but it works like all the others. Each person, regardless of gender, has two copies of each gene. If even one of them has a harmful variant (sometimes called a pathogenic or deleterious variant, or a mutation), the chance of cancer for that person goes up. And it's not just breast cancer. Each gene, when "mutated", has a different risk profile (meaning the likelihood of cancer for various cancer types differs). So, why test for just BRCA1 and BRCA2? Unless you know of a specific, harmful genetic variant in your family, you may want to cast a wide net with a "panel" (where several genes are analyzed at once). And although rare, men can develop breast cancer, too. And BRCA1/2 variants increase the chance for melanoma, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, and more. Not to mention the fact that both women and men have a 50% chance of passing the harmful variant onto their kids. So not just one gene, not just one cancer, not just one gender. Cancer (and genetics) don't discriminate.

The Boob Bus Can Help

Now that you understand the benefit of genetic testing, here's my bold statement: Everyone should consider having a genetic testing panel for cancer and other "adult onset" conditions. Yes, EVERYONE, but even more so if you have certain "red flags" in your personal and family history (more on that in another blog post). If finding a harmful genetic variant means direct courses of action to reduce your risk and save your life, why not? The Boob Bus offers guided assistance through the genetic testing process related to cancer risk, heart disease risk, and more. Contact us today for more details at 866-747-BOOB.

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