Page 29

Photo: ArtBox Images RM/GettyImages.

“Genetic counseling and genetic testing gives women at high risk for these cancers more tools and more information about how to make a decision about how to handle their health,” says Mitchell, who has practiced at Tully Health Center in Stamford and currently practices in White Plains, N.Y. But genetic testing is not indicated for all patients, cautions Danielle Bonadies, assistant director of Yale-New Haven Hospital’s Cancer Genetic Counseling Program. “Genetics is a family affair,” Bonadies says. “So we start with a very detailed family history, evaluating very specific risk factors to see if they’re a good candidate for testing.” Jones’ risk factors made her a good candidate. But because most of the risk was on her father’s side, she saw the test as a precaution, something to cross off her to-do list. “I would get a negative result and be done with it,” she says. “I was not at all nervous because I was so sure it would be negative.” THE TEST Most testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations is done at a doctor’s office or medical lab via a blood test or by swabbing the inside of the cheek. The test can cost up to $4,000, but is often covered by insurance, particularly for women with a family history of early onset bilateral breast cancer or ovarian cancer, early onset of menstruation and Ashkenazi Jewish heritage. Jones paid about $400 out of pocket when she was tested, she says. In addition to determining if testing is warranted, genetic counselors help clients make sense of their results. “The results can have a devastating outcome if you aren’t prepared,” says Bonadies. They can also be confusing since results include a detailed analysis of the patient’s calibrated future risk by age. Says Jones: “You get a whole report that gives you all these staggering numbers, which puts it in scary blackand-white terms.” Jones’ test results put her risk of getting breast cancer by the time she is 50 at 50 percent, and her risk for ovarian cancer by the same age at 27 percent. “I’m 42, so 50 is right around the corner,” she says. Further, her results assessed her risk of contracting breast cancer by age 70 at 87 percent and her risk for ovarian cancer by age 70 at 44 percent. These are not numbers Jones felt she could live with, particularly her risk for ovarian cancer, which is harder to detect than breast cancer and more likely to be fatal. For Jones the report seemed to tell her that cancer was in her future: “It was just a matter of when,” she says. One common misconception is that if a mutation is not detected during testing then the patient is in the clear. “Just because the test was not able to detect a mutation

image is everything! We will transform your property by providing our special touch

come to the experts

Stone Decorative Walls Design Built Landscaping Water Falls-Flower Garden Patio-Driveway Brick Pavers Decorative Stone/Color Mulch

Construction Building & Property Estate Management Fully Insured

203-743-4856 15 Bates Place Danbury CT

www.reliableexcavatingco.com

HealthyLife October 2013  

HealthyLife magazine brings you a wide range of original content geared at living a balanced life to nourish your mind, body, and spirit.

HealthyLife October 2013  

HealthyLife magazine brings you a wide range of original content geared at living a balanced life to nourish your mind, body, and spirit.

Advertisement