A Genetic Edge for Women


Author:
Nadine Rayes, MS, LCGC, MemorialCare Breast Center at Orange Coast Memorial
Live Health Topics:

Learning About Hereditary Breast Cancer Risk

Recent media news has heightened worldwide awareness around hereditary breast cancer risk, genetic testing, and the difficult choices women face when carrying aggressive, cancer-causing genes.  

  • Do I have a hereditary risk for breast cancer?
  • How do I manage my risk?
  • What does this mean for my family members?

 The Cancer Risk and Prevention Program can provide concerned women with answers through its genetic counseling and testing program. Each woman gains an in-depth understanding of her personal risk profile, along with assurances and preventive recommendations.

Nadine’s role involves providing patients with a complete risk assessment based on family and medical history and making recommendations for preventive screenings and surgical interventions.

“Many women gain peace of mind after learning their breast cancer risk. Whether it’s low, moderate or high, there is a sense of empowerment that comes from knowing and determining what actions would be helpful to take,” says Rayes.

Take Control with Preventive Actions

Some cancers may be lifestyle-related. Preventive lifestyle measures include controlling weight, limiting alcohol consumption, and having regular breast screenings to find cancer at an early, treatable stage.

Gene mutations account for approximately 5 to 10 percent of cancer cases. The most common gene mutations that cause hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2. Recently, Angelina Jolie made public her BRCA1 gene mutation, and her choice to have a double mastectomy, an aggressive 
risk-reduction option.

“Angelina Jolie used her celebrity platform to raise awareness and help women have open discussions about breast cancer. Not every woman will choose the same path, and that’s okay. It’s about knowing all of the facts so you can make informed decisions,” says Rayes.

Next Steps

Our genetic counseling program offers support and guidance on all aspects of the BRCA testing process. Start by telling your physician about your family’s health history and ask if genetic testing is appropriate for you.

Cancer Risk and Prevention Programs: