Breast cancer - are you at risk?

Breast cancer are increasing and the most common cancer in South African Women, occurring in about 1 in 29 women.  Are you at risk?

Breast and ovarian cancer are some of the most well-known and publicized cancers with a hereditary basis. Made famous by Angelina Jolie, in whose family this disease occurs, the condition is the result of one or more mutations occurring in one of two genes, BRCA 1 and BRCA 2. Only about 5-10% of all breast cancers are however hereditary, meaning the mutation/s run in the family. Women who have one or more of these mutations, have up to a 85 % chance of developing breast cancer in their lifetime, and up to a 65 % chance of ovarian cancer.

The risk of your family being affected by this syndrome is higher if you answer yes to any of the below questions regarding your family:

  • Multiple cases of breast and/or ovarian cancer
  • Early or premenopausal breast and/or ovarian cancer
  • Bilateral breast cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Single individual with both breast and ovarian cancer (can be sequentially)
  • Other cancers in the family such as colon, prostate, pancreatic and skin cancer
  • You are of Afrikaans or Ashkenazi Jewish descent

Sequencing of the entire length of the two genes detects any mutations, and allows the woman to determine her risk of developing cancer in the future, and make informed decisions about any preventative measures which may be needed. It is important to note that this test does not detect breast cancer once it has developed. This is why physical and imaging screening methods such as regular breast examinations and mammograms remain important for the early detection of breast cancer itself.

It is also important to know what screening options are available to you, especially if you have a family history of cancer.

Intercare Salubrity now offers a convenient service for accessing and coordinating genetic screening tests and includes genetic counselling as a key part of the process. The service is offered through a partnership with the leading stem cell preservation and genetics laboratory in Europe (based in Geneva, Switzerland) to perform the testing using Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technology. To request further details, please contact us on 086 999 0669 or send an email to genetics@salubrity.co.za.

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