• Facts About BRCA1 and BRCA2

  • Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, Castle Rock Adventist Hospital Angelina Jolie recently announced that she had pursued bilateral mastectomies with breast reconstruction.  She made the decision to pursue this surgery because she tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 gene.  Having a mutation in this gene put her at up to an 87% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime and up to a 50% chance of developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime.  The surgery she had dramatically reduced her breast cancer risk from 87% to less than 5%.  She may consider options to reduce her ovarian cancer risk in the future.

    One in 500 people in the general population and 1 in 40 people in the Ashkenazi Jewish population has a mutation in either BRCA1 or BRCA2.  Angelina was tested and found to have this mutation because her mother, actress and producer Marcheline Bertrand, died of ovarian cancer at age 56.  This family history Angelina at increased risk for having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, which lead to Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome. 

    Both males and females with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations have increased chances of developing cancer in their lifetime.  Options are available to them for increased and earlier cancer screening as well as cancer prevention.  Thesfe screening and prevention options are typically covered by insurance.  Individuals who are found to have a genetic risk for cancer are protected under federal and typically state laws from genetic discrimination.  Please see www.genome.gov for more information.

    So who should consider testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations?

    If someone has a personal or family history of any of the following, he or she should speak with a genetic counselor and/or a doctor to learn more about cancer screening and genetic testing options:

    • Breast cancer at or before age 50
    • Ovarian cancer
    • A man with breast cancer
    • Two or more blood-related family members with breast cancer on the same side of the family
    • Breast cancer at any age AND Eastern European Jewish (Ashkenazi)
    • Breast cancer at any age AND Hispanic/Latino from Southern Colorado/Northern New Mexico/San Luis Valley

    Many other types of cancer besides breast and ovarian cancer are also hereditary.  Individuals who are concerned about their personal or family history of any type of cancer should speak with a doctor or genetic counselor about their history.

    Genetic counselors are health care providers with expertise in hereditary conditions.  To find a genetic counselor near you, ask your doctor for a referral or visit www.nsgc.org .  You can also contact Parker's genetic counselor, Melissa Gilstrap, MS, CGC at 303-269-4348 or melissagilstrap@centura.org.  Additional information about the genetic counseling and cancer risk assessment services available at Castle Rock Adventist Hospital can be found at www.castlerockadventisthospital.org/CRH/Specialties/Cancer-Oncology/Genetic-Counseling.

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