WellnessOctoberpdf - page 5

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Health & Wellness
Fall 2013
The Garden City Telegram
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Mark Fesen, MD, FACP
Resty Tibayan, MD
227248
in the general population carry a
BRCA mutation.
According to the National Cancer
Institute, BRCA1 and BRCA2 are
human genes that produce tumor
suppressor proteins. The proteins
help repair damaged DNA and,
therefore, play a role in ensuring the
stability of the cell’s genetic material.
When the genes mutate, DNA
damage may not be repaired prop-
erly. As a result, cells are more likely
to develop additional genetic altera-
tions that can lead to cancer.
Every woman is at risk for breast
cancer, and her risk increases with
age. A woman in the general popula-
tion faces about a 13 percent lifetime
risk of developing breast cancer. How-
ever, those who have a BRCA muta-
tion and have never had a diagnosis
of cancer have an estimated 55 to 85
percent lifetime risk for breast cancer.
In addition, women with a BRCA
mutation have up to a 60 percent life-
time risk for ovarian cancer, in com-
parison to the general population’s
risk of about 1 in 70, or 1.5 percent.
Guy said knowing she carries the
BRCA mutation has been empowering.
“Knowing I am at a higher risk of
having cells that could mutate and
become cancer has given me the
option to do something about it. I
feel like I’m in control now. I’m not
waiting for cancer to get me, I feel
like I’ve been given the opportunity
and choice to get out in front of
it,” she said. “It gives me a sense of
calm or peace.”
Her husband, Bruce, said he feels
the same way.
“You’re on the offense fighting a
terrible disease instead of being on
the defense,” he said. “There are a lot
of other people who don’t get that
opportunity.”
Guy said that while she and her
husband were grappling with what
she should do, her mother and father
were exploring her mother’s options
as well.
“When my mom was diagnosed
with breast cancer, genetic testing
wasn’t an option,” she said. “So, hav-
ing her go with me to my appoint-
ment last year and learning that, al-
though she had beat cancer and had
been cancer-free for 20-plus years,
she was still at an increased risk for
developing a second cancer.”
Guy said that while doctors now
recommend genetic testing for
women with early-onset breast can-
cer and those whose family history
is consistent with a mutation, that
wasn’t the case for her mother, who
had received her initial diagnosis in
the early 1990s.
“During mom’s pre-op screenings,
they determined she had breast can-
cer again,” she said. “We were all a bit
stunned. She had been cancer-free
for over 20 years.”
According to the National Cancer
Institute, women who carry the muta-
tions are more likely to develop a
second cancer in both the same breast
and the opposite breast than women
who do not carry the mutations.
Given their results and the decisions
they faced, their appointments grew
to include Guy’s dad and her husband.
“My dad, husband, mom and I met
with our doctor together to discuss
what our next step should be.”
She said her doctor explained that
while she could opt for enhanced
screenings for breast cancer, there
were no effective ovarian cancer
screening tests.
“Since we had our two children, she
strongly recommended I have a total
hysterectomy as soon as possible.”
Guy and her mother had surgery
Aug. 10, 2012, in the same hospital.
Guy would have a total hysterectomy
while her mother would have a
mastectomy.
“We were relieved that mom’s can-
cer was stage IA, which meant it was
small and had not spread and could
be treated with chemo-prevention
drugs,” Guy said. “And my lab results
revealed that while my ovarian tissue
showed abnormal changes, I didn’t
have any cancer.”
Her mother, Chris York, said she
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