We know we’re supposed to head to the lady doctor once a year for a gyno and breast exam to catch any signs of cancer early. But these days, women can even go one step further—they can get genetic testing. Women who get tested for BRCA gene mutations will know if they are 60% more likely to develop breast and/or ovarian cancer over the course of their lives. It’s a great step in cancer prediction and prevention, but for women who test positive it also presents serious issues and some heavy decision-making. [CNN] Breast and ovarian cancer affect about 5% of women under age 40, and genetic testing can help a high-risk woman prepare well before the disease hits. After she tested positive for BRCA gene mutations, 26-year-old Lindsay Avner created the Bright Pink organization for women in the same boat. The organization educates young women about methods of preventative health. The most extreme: prophylactic double mastectomy. In other words, removing as much of the at-risk breast tissue as possible. Lindsay had this surgery at age 23 and while she hopes it will keep her from getting cancer, it is possible it will still develop. And if deflating your chest isn’t enough to think about, women considering the test and its results fear higher health insurance fees or even getting dropped by their insurance provider. Some women even factor cancer into their budgets, passing up on a cute pair of pumps to save for possible chemo treatments.
Testing positive for the gene means a woman is more likely to get cancer, but it’s not a done deal. Knowing you are 60% likely to get cancer could save your life, but would you get a mastectomy or even a hysterectomy if you tested positive for the gene?