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Posted on May 18, 2014 |

Hereditory Breast cancer and prophylactic surgery.

Hereditory Breast cancer and prophylactic surgery.

Is it the dawn of Epidemic of prophylactic surgery?

Hollywood star Angelina Jolie, who underwent double mastectomy last year, says she is yet to get another surgery.The 38-year-old actress had announced the news of her double mastectomy in May last year.

“There’s still another surgery to have, which I haven’t yet. I’ll, you know, I’ll get advice from all these wonderful people who I’ve been talking to, to get through that next stage,” Jolie said.

Angelina Jolie was unfortunate to have inherited one faulty versionof the BRCA1 gene, harboring the kinds of changes that she reported would give her a 87% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime – as well as a 50% chance for ovarian cancer. Her mother had died relatively young, at 56, from ovarian cancer.

Angelina Jolie’s decision to tell the world about her preventive double mastectomy may have raised some awareness — but has also generated plenty of confusion.

This raises panic among the healthy women.

Angelina Jolie’s revelation that she had a drastic double mastectomy to reduce her risk of breast cancer may inspire other women to have similar surgery, but many who don’t necessarily need the procedure are already opting for it.

 There is growing body of evidence that women who donot have breast cancer overestimate their risk of developing breast cancer.

 Sensationalizing celebs helath issue may not be of benefit to community.It could increase the awareness but at the same time there is threat of causing undue fear.more research is needed to understand impact of this on public.

 Who would benefit from surgery??

 Women with BRCA mutations associated with a high risk of breast cancer, confirmed by testing, and with a strong family history of breast cancer, a previous breast cancer, and who show signs of certain pre-cancerous conditions are among those who could benefit from the surgery,

q1. Can a normal healthy person undergo such genetic tests to know the fact whether they may get cancer later in life and do a surgery?

 Ans ; NO in general.We need to understand that only 5% of breast cancers are hereditary.

 It  just depends on how we define a normal healthy person.There are certain guidelines for carrying out Genetic testing for cancer.Not everybody who fears cancer, need to get these tests.So as we understand only 5 to 10% of cancers are hereditary.Genetic tests are done to find out mutation (change)of gene which predisposes for high probability of a particular cancer.

 Who should consider genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations?

 The person being tested has a personal or family history that suggests an inherited cancer risk condition

The features of a person’s personal or family medical history that, particularly in combination, may suggest a hereditary breast ovary cancer syndrome include:

  • Breast cancer diagnosed before age 50 years
  • Cancer in both breasts
  • Both breast and ovarian cancers
  • Multiple breast cancers
  • Two or more primary types of BRCA1- or BRCA2-related cancers in a single family member
  • Cases of male breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ethnicity

So only those who fall into this high risk category can get genetic testing done.

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