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'Cancer Prevention & Screening' posts

BRCA Genetic Testing for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer

In today’s New York Times, actress and director Angelina Jolie bravely and openly discusses her experience with BRCA genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer:

The 37 year old Ms. Jolie – who has not had cancer – underwent genetic testing because of her family history of cancer. She was found to carry a mutation in the BRCA1 gene, which puts her at significant risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. Ms. Jolie, the mother of 3 adopted and 3 biological children, elected to undergo a risk-reducing double mastectomy, and plans to have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed soon to lower her risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Ms. Jolie’s story opens a public conversation about the importance of genetic testing in helping to reduce a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers. This very personal decision about mastectomy by someone widely regarded as one of the most beautiful women in the movies also helps women recognize that their body image and sexuality does not have to be defined by their breasts. Not every woman will make the decision to have major surgery, but genetic test results can also make sure that your breast cancer screening is appropriate for your level of risk; women who carry a BRCA gene mutation need ...

Misconceptions & Misunderstandings About Genetic Testing For Hereditary Cancer: My family history of cancer almost guarantees that one day I will develop cancer

Many people who have a family history of cancer often assume that they are at high risk of developing cancer and do not see the value of genetic counseling and genetic testing. The reasoning often goes like this:

“My mother, my cousin, and my grandmother all had breast cancer. I know there is a very high chance that I will develop it too. I would never have a mastectomy, so I am extra good about getting mammograms and my doctor checks my breasts every time I see her. I have a healthy diet, exercise regularly, rarely drink alcohol, and I have never put a cigarette to my lips. Since I am already doing everything I can possibly do, I don’t see how genetic counseling and genetic testing can help me.”

Of course, it is a good idea to be conscientious about your medical care, and everyone should maintain a healthy lifestyle, regardless of family history. The questions that genetic testing may answer for you are:

Breast Cancer Screening Recommendations Revisited

Are you confused about breast cancer screening recommendations? If you are, you are not alone.

Multiple organizations have come out with conflicting studies, data, and recommendations. Those advocating for reduced screening argue that screening does not improve the death rate from breast cancer; that women who have biopsies that are found to be benign suffer significant psychological harm; and that cancers are found that would never cause death.

Significant flaws have been found in these arguments by physicians who have committed their careers to understanding and treating breast cancer. There are multiple problems with the scientific methodology, assumptions, endpoints and analyses used in these critiques of mammogram screening recommendations. One problem is that medical science currently does not have the ability to distinguish between lethal cancers and those that will not cause death. Based on rigorous scientific data, we do know that the best way to improve survival from breast cancer is to detect it before it becomes clinically obvious and to treat it early.

None of the major oncology organizations support the guidelines calling for reduced screening. A letter to the New England Journal of Medicine ....

Misconceptions & Misunderstandings About Genetic Testing For Hereditary Cancer: Don’t Test Me, Test My Family!

As a genetic counselor with 30 years of experience, I have met with many families who have been concerned about their hereditary risks to develop cancer and other disorders. I have found that the complexity of genetics can sometimes cause misunderstandings about some critical information.

A common question that patients ask is this: I already have cancer, it makes no sense for me to have genetic testing, so why don’t you test my family instead?

As it turns out, the best strategy for most families is to for genetic testing to start with a relative who has already been diagnosed with cancer.

  1. If that person has a normal genetic test result, there is usually no need to test any other healthy family members.
  2. Because of the complicated nature of cancer genetics, accurate interpretation of a negative result usually requires an affected relative to have a positive genetic test.
  3. If a patient has a positive genetic test, the cost of testing all other family members will usually be considerably less expensive and increases the likelihood that health insurers will cover the test.

Let’s clarify this with a specific example.

Three sisters, all in their 30s, want to undergo genetic testing because their mother is a breast cancer survivor, and ...

Facts and myths about colorectal cancer

March is Colorectal Awareness Month and I would like to invite anyone over the age of 50 who has not had their first screening colonoscopy to come in and get screened.

If Colorectal Awareness Month isn’t motivation enough to get you through our door, let me convince you by sharing a few facts and by debunking some of the myths surrounding colorectal cancer, colonoscopy, and the preparation:

  • Fact: In 2013, American Cancer Society reports that colorectal cancer is the second leading cancer-related cause of death in the United States.
  • Fact: Approximately 150,000 Americans will be diagnosed this year. 55,000 will
    die from colorectal cancer.
  • Myth: Colorectal Cancer is more common in men.
    (Fact: Colorectal cancer is diagnosed in as many women as men.)
  • Myth: No signs or symptoms mean I do not need to be screened.
    (Fact: Even if you are asymptomatic you should get screened. When a colorectal cancer is found and treated in its early stages, the 5 year survival rate is approximately 90%.)

Colonoscopy is still recognized as the best, and most accurate test used to diagnose colorectal cancer...

New Cancer Center to Open April 1 at Swedish/Edmonds; Outpatient Facility to Provide Medical Oncology, Infusion Services Close to Home


 
 


  
Cancer-Center-Opening-2.jpg

Swedish Cancer Institute at Edmonds opens to the public at an April 17 ribbon-cutting ceremony on the Swedish/Edmonds campus. (Left to right) David Loud, aide from Congressman Jim McDermott, M.D.; Swedish Cancer Institute Medical Oncologist Richard McGee, M.D.; Swedish/Edmonds Chief Executive Dave Jaffe; and Swedish Cancer Institute Executive Director Thomas D. Brown, M.D., MBA, cut the ribbon during the event that attracted 250 visitors. The two-story facility, located at 21632 Highway 99 in Edmonds, provides high-quality and comprehensive medical oncology to patients through an infusion unit, laboratory, pharmacy, and access to Swedish’s electronic medical record system.
 
EDMONDS, WASH.
, March 21, 2013 – Swedish Health Services will open a new outpatient cancer center at the Edmonds campus on Monday, April 1, 2013 in response to the growing need for medical oncology and infusion (chemotherapy) services in the south Snohomish and north King County area. The new two-story, 17,102-square-foot facility is anticipated to handle as many as 175 patient visits each day and provide increased access to cancer-care services for people living north of Seattle.

Colorectal Cancer Prevention

In March, we commemorate National Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month.

To do so, we take the time to recognize the second leading cause of cancer death in the United States. We honor loved ones who have been affected by colorectal cancer and raise awareness about colorectal cancer with the hopes to decrease the number of people dying from this disease.

What causes colorectal cancer?

There are a variety of genetic and environmental factors that contribute to the development of colon polyps. Only a small fraction of adenomatous colon polyps develop into colorectal cancer, but nearly all colorectal cancers arise from an adenomatous polyp. The role of colonoscopy is to identify and eradicate any adenomatous polyps so as to minimize future risk of colorectal cancer.

Several studies show that obesity increases your risk of developing colorectal cancer by 1.5 times. Cigarette smoking and moderate-to-heavy alcohol use also increase colorectal cancer risk. There is good news for Seattleites, however. Regular coffee consumption seems to decrease the risk of colorectal cancer.

How can I prevent colorectal cancer?

We have talked before about why you should be thinking about colorectal cancer screening. Simply put, it saves lives!

Besides...

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