Genetic Testing for Cancer

Genetic Testing for Cancer
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As we wrap up Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Mercy Joplin is encouraging people with a history of breast cancer in their families to get genetic counseling and possible testing.

In 2010, Beth Peacock was diagnosed with cancer.

“Takes away your faith, and your strength, and shakes you to the core. Especially when you’re a parent,” Peacock said. “It’s a toll on your body and your emotions. And it’s tough. But I took it one day at a time. My family was very supportive.”

Through two surgeries and chemo, Peacock recovered. She then tested for a genetic predisposition to breast cancer. She doesn’t have the gene. A relief for the mother of two.

“It just takes a load off. Knowing that it wasn’t genetic,” Peacock said.

At Mercy Hospital, Doctor Walter Dandridge says genetic testing can figure out if a patient is susceptible to 20 different types of cancer, including breast cancer.

“We don’t, I think, get near the number of women we should for genetic testing,” Dandridge said.

The average person has an up to 10% chance of getting breast cancer. But certain hereditary genes can raise that risk to nearly 90%.

“And once they have that information they can actually do something about it. And it also tells us what may be the best treatment options,” Dandridge said. “One is simply following along, doing MRI’s on a yearly basis. Then they can undergo anti-hormonal therapy. And then the other option is to undergo a bi-lateral mastectomy. Where there’s reconstruction. Which almost totally eliminates the risk of her getting breast cancer later on in life.”

The test only requires two, small blood samples. And within weeks, patients like Peacock can have the information to make medical decisions.

“I think if you know ahead of time that there’s a chance, it’s a better way to save your life,” Peacock said.

The Mercy Health Foundation is hosting 2 free seminars on genetic testing, November 10th and 11th. You can register, HERE.