What happens if you test POSITIVE on a hereditary test?
First there is the fear, the stress, the oh my what does all of this mean. Then there will be the calm after the storm where you really think…”ok what is next?”.
For ease of understanding we are going to take BRACAnalysis as the test a patient underwent and tested positive. BRACAnalysis is a test which assesses risk of getting breast and/or ovarian cancer due to related gene mutations.
Getting a positive result on hereditary cancer test means that you have an increased (up to 87%) risk of getting breast cancer or increased (44%) risk of getting ovarian cancer. Indeed it is very important to know if you have such a high risk so you can do something about it.
What can you do?
Test results give a personalised medical management plan. This plans helps you and your doctor detect the cancer at a very early stage. Why is that important? The earlier the cancer is detected the easier it is to fight it. A high grade cancer has lower survival rates than a lower grade cancer.
The plan would include:
- What tests to do (such as mammogram, self breast exam, MRI, CT or PET scans to name a few)
- The frequencies to do these tests
- Depending on your age and risk level, other options such as surgery, special drugs or therapies.
Why is it important to get a plan?
These plans are made using millions of women’s experiences and approved by leading medical guidelines. They are crafted after seeing exactly how to catch the cancer early enough so minimal treatment will be needed. Everyone can google and find out the generic plans however these plans are made by expert and customised for your age and situation.
Is it worth the stress of knowing I might get cancer?
In many cases, when breast cancer is detected early, one may only need surgery and/or a few pills to safely avoid chemo. So the real questions is, is it stressful or comfortable to know the inevitable? The latter allows you to plan for what you already have a high risk to get and fight it at an early stage.
Which test do I choose?
There are many tests in the market, it is important to go for tests that have been recognised by international guidelines such as ASCO, ESMO, NCCN etc. These guidelines are verified the results so you can trust what the company is doing.
The world of genetics is changing rapidly, every month new mutations are discovered which tell researches if a certain gene may lead to hereditary cancers. So it is important to choose tests that give life long updates.