Health News Articles

Cancer and Genetics: What Women Need to Know

Jan 22, 2014

Female Genetic CancerMany forms of cancer tend to run in families. For both women and men, knowing when to seek genetic testing may lead to earlier intervention in, or even prevention of, a cancer diagnosis.

Stopping Breast Cancer Before it Strikes
Ten percent of breast cancer diagnoses involve gene mutations, which can be detected with a simple blood test. “Knowing if you have a genetic mutation, and therefore have a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer, means you can be more aggressive in preventing the disease,” says Doreen Babott, (pictured left), MD, board certified in medical oncology, hematology and internal medicine, and a member
of the Medical Staff of University Medical Center of Princeton at Plainsboro (UMCPP).

Women who find they are genetically predisposed have several options. Protective surgery, like the double mastectomy Angelina Jolie underwent, is one possibility. Hormonal therapy is another.

“Frequent screenings, including monthly self-exams, annual breast exams, and digital mammograms as often as twice a year, are essential for high-risk women,” says Dr. Babott. “An annual MRI, and in some cases an ultrasound, means breast changes can be quickly identified.”

Women with a family history of breast cancer before age 50 and women with both breast and ovarian cancer in their families are more likely to have gene mutations, as are Eastern European Jews and African Americans who have a family member diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 35 or younger.

Genetic counseling and testing services are available at the UMCPP Breast Health through The Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey LIFE Center.

To schedule an appointment or for more information about genetic testing, call the UMCPP’s Breast Health Center at 609.688.2710.