Bethesda Women’s Health Center believes in empowering women when it comes to their breast health. That’s why we proudly offer genetic testing services to help patients better understand their risk for inherited gene mutation. Using a revised family history questionnaire and the criteria published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®), our staff can help patients determine if genetic testing would be beneficial at the time of their annual mammogram.
“Most breast and ovarian cancers occur by chance,” explains Carol A. Adami, M.D., board certified radiologist and medical director of Bethesda Women’s Health Center. “Only 5 to 10 percent are attributed to an inherited mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.”
If a woman is found to have an inherited gene mutation, her risk is significantly higher. She has up to an 87 percent risk for developing breast cancer and up to a 44 percent risk for developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime. Anyone with the following personal or family history may be a candidate for BRCA genetic testing:
- Pre-menopausal breast cancer (breast cancer before age 50)
- Breast and ovarian cancer in the same individual
- Ovarian cancer at any age
- Male breast cancer
- Bilateral breast cancer
- Known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations in either mother’s or father’s side of the family
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
- Three family members affected by pancreatic, breast or ovarian cancer
Breast Cancer and Beyond
Bethesda Women’s Health Center is proud to now offer a revolutionary new clinical genetic testing program for inherited cancer risk called myRisk™ Hereditary Cancer with Myriad Genetics Laboratory. Patients determined to be at high risk for a gene mutation and who choose to continue with further analysis will submit a saliva or blood sample for analysis at the Myriad laboratory.
“This new panel test can broadly target specific cancer sites to identify clinically significant mutations impacting inherited risks for eight important cancers: breast, colorectal, ovarian, endometrial, gastric, pancreatic, melanoma and prostate,” says Dr. Adami.
The cost of genetic testing can vary depending on the type of testing needed. Most insurance companies, including Medicare, cover the cost when specific criteria are met. Results are usually available within four weeks. A physician referral is not necessary.
Dr. Adami adds, “Patients who undergo genetic testing will meet with our nurse practitioner to review their results, complete the risk assessment and arrange for follow-up care. You can also be proactive with your medical care and find ways to reduce your risk for cancer.”
Surgical and medical interventions can reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer by more than 90 percent. Supplemental screening tests, such as an annual MRI and regular physical exams, can detect cancer at an earlier stage than routine screening.
“The gene can be inherited from either your mother or your father. If one of your parents is a carrier, you have a 50 percent chance of having the mutation and passing it to your offspring,” Dr. Adami continues. “Our staff is here to help you decide what is best for you.”