My battle with breast cancer: Genetic testing

Yahoo Contributor Network

Is breast cancer genetic? It is for a very small part of the population. There is a test that you can take to see if you have one of the many mutations that will put you at a high risk for breast cancer and other cancers. The test looks for mutations on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Based on my particular situation, I decided to have the testing done. I had to take a number of issues into consideration before I made my final decision.

I have breast cancer

I had a diagnosis of breast cancer before I was offered genetic testing. Due to the fact that I am under the age of 50 it is important for me to know if my cancer is genetic. My kids and sisters will want to know if my test comes back positive.

Family history matters

Your family history may determine if you should get tested. If one of your parents or siblings has breast cancer, it may be worth getting tested. Men should be included in your decision. Although it is rare, men do get breast cancer.

Testing for mutations on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes will also tell you if you are at a higher risk for other types of cancer. If your family has a history of ovarian, pancreatic and other cancers, talk with your doctor and see if testing is right for you.

Insurance concerns

Many insurance issues arise with this particular type of genetic testing. Health insurance will cover it only if you meet certain criteria. You cannot be denied employment or health insurance based on the results of this test. However, you can be denied other insurance such as life insurance or long-term care insurance if your test is positive. The test is expensive -- it can cost as much as $4,000. Have the doctor's office or lab pre-qualify you with your insurance before they do the testing.

My testing

I decided to get tested because I have some history of breast cancer in my family. My grandmother and my aunt had it and now, I have cancer, too. Although it is not a strong history, my doctor recommended that I get tested because of my cancer diagnosis. If I were to test positive, the recommended course of treatment for someone in my situation would be a bilateral mastectomy. This is where they remove both breasts. Fortunately for me, my test results came back negative.

Getting tested is easy. The lab at the oncology office took a blood sample. They only needed to fill one vial. Then the sample is sent off to another lab for testing. I got the results back within two weeks.

Testing has given me piece of mind. I can go forward with my surgery and treatment without worrying about having a high risk for the cancer appearing in my other breast. Knowing the results will enable my daughter to make good choices when it comes to her health.

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