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Martha Jefferson Monday: Genetic Testing and Breast Cancer - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

Martha Jefferson Monday: If genetic testing shows a risk for breast cancer, what are my options?

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Genetic testing is a simple process. A tube of blood is drawn and sent to the lab. Things get more complicated, however, when the results come back.

"After you've tested positive for a BRAC1 or 2 mutation, my recommended next step is to go home and take a deep breath and let this information really synch in," said Martha Thomas, a genetic counselor at Martha Jefferson Hospital.

For people who undergo genetic testing for breast cancer, receiving the results of the test, especially if the test is positive, is a big deal. Thomas says the good news is, there is no need to make any immediate decisions once the test is done.

"It's your DNA and it's not going to change and there is no medical emergency to do anything immediately. We can really go through all your options and you can take time to sit down and think about what you're comfortable with."

If you do test positive for having a BRAC1 or BRAC2 mutation, research shows there is between an 85 percent and 87 percent chance you will be diagnosed with breast cancer before age 70. Genetic counselors work with patients to decide what's right for them.

"Going from the least invasive to the most invasive there are lots of options for women and you can almost see these options as a buffet and pick and choose what you're comfortable with," commented Thomas.

Women can choose to undergo increased screening, which would mean getting mammograms more often or undergoing breast MRI. The next step is to take a chemo prevention drug called tamoxifen which cuts your risk in half. Finally, the most invasive options are having your ovaries removed, or undergoing a prophylactic mastectomy.

While there are a variety of options, Thomas does say, the earlier you find out your risk, eth better.

"The younger that you are when you find out this information, the more options that are on the table for you."

For more information on genetic counseling or genetic testing at Martha Jefferson, call Health Connection at (434) 654-7009.

If you have a question about your health you'd like for us to answer, email healthquestions@nbc29.com.

Do you have health questions? Starting June 4, get the answers every Monday morning from the experts at Martha Jefferson Hospital in our new feature: Martha Jefferson Monday.

Jenn Downs will meet with the experts of Martha Jefferson Hospital and ask them your questions. You’ll see and hear the answers during NBC29 News at Sunrise every Monday morning.

Submit your questions now! Just click this link and write your question in the email. Then tune in every Monday morning during NBC29 News at Sunrise for Martha Jefferson Monday brought to you by NBC29 and Martha Jefferson Hospital.

 
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