There are many diseases out there where early prevention may significantly help reduce their ability to overtake your life. Knowing what diseases you maybe prone to may cause some anxiety initially, however over time you will find that it provides you with some very powerful tools including; control, awareness, and time. Taking a look at the health history of your parents or grandparents are good insights of what to look out for as you get older. It also makes it much easier to stay healthy.
Cancer develops due to alteration in genes, when the genes work correctly they promote normal and controlled cell growth; however when a mutation occurs in the gene tissues the effected area becomes cancerous. Therefore all cancers are genetic, as they are formed through mutation in genes, but only a few are inheritable. It is estimated that 5% to 10% of cancers are inheritable.
Breast, Ovarian, Colorectal and prostate cancer are on the list of the 5% to 10% of cancers that are the most inheritable. It must be understood that it is not the cancer that is passed down from a parent to a child; it is the gene mutation that is passed down. Even then, your probability of having cancer may increase but it does not guaranteed you will have cancer.
The human body contains 2 sets of 23 chromosomes, each set possess DNA from each parent, and each chromosome is made up of thousands of genes that are in pairs. In the case of breast-ovarian cancer it is the BRCA1 and BRCA2 that may be impacted. The BRCA gene contains DNA from both mother and father. If the mother or father’s BRCA gene is mutated it maybe passed down from parent to child.
So if you’re mother had ovarian cancer, her sister had breast cancer and you are concerned that you may carry a mutated gene. Here are a couple of things you can do.
1) Take a real deep look at your family history; go as far as back as you can, speak to other relatives to understand how various members passed away.Take a look at the death certificate of family members if possible. This will provide you insight on where you stand, and vital information to take to the Drs. Office.
2) After having reviewed your family history, setup a preventative appointment with your primary care physician. If the affordable care acts remain as is, it will be a free of charge as a preventative service.
3) Based on the conversations with your Primary Care Physician he or she may recommend you take some test, some of which may include a genetic test. Genetic testing is the use of lab test to determine more accurately if you posses the genes for certain illness, to date testing have been developed to identify more than 2500 diseases. These tests are not required or mandatory but for many it provides them insights early in life as to what the future may hold, this includes the possibility of passing down a mutated gene to their own children. In the case of Ovarian-Breast cancer there is a simple blood test that can detect a mutated BRCA gene.
4) Once you have completed your testing you should discuss your options and results with your physician. Your physician will best promote and describe your options.
In many cases knowledge is power, and having such a knowledge allows you to work with your physician early on if you are predisposed to a certain form of cancer.
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