There is a lot of information out there about breast cancer, but not all of it is accurate. Here are some common myths and facts surrounding breast cancer.
Myth #1: Breast cancer is the number one enemy of women.
Fact: The number one enemy is NOT breast cancer but the late detection of breast cancer. Breast cancer detected early can usually be successfully treated.
Myth #2: Finding a lump is the only way to detect breast cancer.
Fact: Some cancers do not form a lump. A visual exam of the breast can often show symptoms that need to be reported to a health care provider.
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Have you ever wondered if genetic testing would be a good idea for you? A genetic counselor can help you throughout the process. There are many different things the counselor can help with, including
• If testing is available, the counselor will have information about cost and possible benefits and harms of the testing. The counselor will also help you explore what the results of testing will mean for you and your family.
• Cancer genetic testing is different from some other types of testing because a positive test result does not always mean that you will get cancer. If you test positive for a variation in a cancer gene, it means you are more likely to get cancer. Continue Reading »
At your appointment, the genetic counselor will ask you questions about your family’s health history and your medical history. Here is some information that will help the genetic counselor work with you:
• He/She will ask about your own cancer experience, including type(s), part of the body affected and age of diagnosis.
• Have any other members of your family had cancer and what type of cancer did they have? Different types of cancer can run in families. To better understand your cancer family history, you should bring any medical records or pathology reports related to your or your family’s cancers or cancer treatment, if possible.
• What was the age of diagnosis for members of the family with cancer? Generally, the younger a person is when a cancer occurs, the more likely she or he is to have a form of cancer that runs in the family.
• It may be helpful to talk with your family about whether or not anyone has had genetic testing.
Not all predispositions to cancer can be identified by a genetic test. Even if a genetic test is available for a certain type of cancer, genetic testing is not helpful for all individuals.
Why see a cancer genetic counselor?
Some types of cancer run in families, which presents future generations with a higher risk of having those cancers. If you’ve had cancer at a young age, had two or more separate cancers or have several family members who have battled cancer, you may want to think about genetic counseling and perhaps genetic testing.
A cancer genetic counselor will evaluate your family health history and talk about risks for inherited cancer, as well as screening and management for those at increased risk. If genetic testing is available, the counselor will tell you about the tests and help you decide if testing would be valuable to you.
If you have had cancer, genetic testing may be useful to you and your medical team for making decisions about cancer management.
If you have not had cancer, these assessments can help you understand your risk for cancer and the risks for other members of the family. Continue Reading »
The goal of genetic counseling is to help you learn more about the causes of genetic conditions (an illness caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes) and how they affect you.
As a genetic counselor, I can review your family and medical histories and figure out if you or your family members are at risk for disease. I can also offer information about genetic conditions and explain how they are passed down through families. As a genetic counselor, I will provide materials about testing options and give professional recommendations and guidance so that you can make informed choices or life plans. If it is found that you have a condition, I can direct you towards medical specialists, advocacy groups, support networks as well as any other resources you might need so that you can make the best decision for you and your family. Continue Reading »