I’m sure you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. This is the time when everyone turns everything pink in the effort to “spread awareness” of breast cancer. My personal opinion is that there aren’t too many people left who aren’t aware. With breast cancer statistics reporting that 1 in 8 US women will be diagnosed, most of us know several people within our own circles who have fought or are currently fighting that particular battle.
I’m partnering with Veritas Genetics on this sponsored post to promote a different kind of awareness. You may or may not know that mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are hereditary and are passed down from one generation to another. Women with this gene mutation face a much higher risk of developing breast cancer as they get older.
It used to be assumed that if you did not have a family history of breast cancer, you did not have to worry about being a BRCA mutation gene carrier. More recent research has revealed that as many as 50% of the women carrying the BRCA gene mutation do not have any family history of breast cancer.
A pioneer in the field of genetic testing, Mary-Claire King has said: “I believe that every woman should be offered testing of BRCA1 and BRCA2 at about age 30 as part of routine medical care. About half of women who inherit mutations in BRCA1 or BRCA2 have no family history of breast or ovarian cancer and have no idea they are carrying cancer-causing mutations. Most of inherited breast and ovarian cancer can be prevented, if mutation carriers know who they are.” source: New York Times
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. Specific inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers. Together, BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations account for about 20-25% of hereditary breast cancers, and about 5-10% of all breast cancers. In addition, mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 account for around 15% of ovarian cancers overall.
A harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can be inherited from a person’s mother or father. Each child of a parent who carries a mutation in one of these genes has a 50% chance of inheriting the mutation. The effects of mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 on a person’s cancer risk are seen even when the second copy of the gene is normal.
Since BRCA gene testing has been around for a while, why are more women not getting tested? One of the reasons is cost. People naturally assume that a genetic test is going to be costly. (It sure sounds like it would be, doesn’t it?) The Veritas Genetics BRCA test is only $199. It does not require an insurance authorization, includes genetic counseling, and can be done from the convenience of your own home. So for the folks who haven’t sought out testing because they avoid going to the doctor’s office like the plague (yes, I might resemble that description more than a little bit), they have no more excuses!
So how does the Veritas Genetics testing work? It’s surprisingly easy as I found out first hand. First, I went to the Veritas Genetics website and requested a myBRCA test kit. It arrived within a few days of Veritas Genetics getting a doctor’s approval. (You can use your own doctor or one provided by the site.) You use the kit to collect some saliva (no blood!!) and return it via mail. The company processes the test and provides results in about 4 to 6 weeks. Genetic counselors are available at every stage of the process.
Veritas Genetics kits can be sent to any state except California, Florida, Maryland, or New York where genetic testing regulations prohibit it.
Looking for more information about breast and/or ovarian cancer?