Why I Won’t Get the Genetic Test for Breast Cancer

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Why I Won’t Get the Genetic Test for Breast Cancer

Is the genetic test for breast cancer right for everyone?

A FEW YEARS ago, my mother called with an urgent request. She was agitated. She had just come from a meeting of her Jewish women’s group, where she had learned about BRCA1 and BRCA2, the so-called breast cancer genes. She wanted me to get tested. She insisted. I immediately said no.

BRCA1 and 2 are some of the most powerful cancer markers scientists have discovered—archetypes of an ever expanding pool of potentially livesaving genetic tests. A mutation in one of those genes more than quadruples your risk of breast cancer to between 45 and 65 percent. For ovarian cancer, the risk hits 10 to 39 percent. Treatment is ruthless but effective: Cut away your breasts and ovaries to cut down your risk.

When I got that call from my mom, though, I shut her down. Because while BRCA is a powerful tool to estimate risk, it’s not a crystal ball. As with every mutation in our DNA, its effects vary depending on where exactly the gene is broken and on a family’s cancer history. It’s never “You will get cancer.” As a science journalist, I long ago internalized that uncertainty. And I didn’t want the results of one inscrutable test to propel me into irreversible surgery.

It took me more than a year to step back from that gut reaction. The science of genetics is constantly evolving, and I wasn’t sure exactly where I stood—and if I wasn’t sure, then what did that mean for the millions of people getting results from other, even more inscrutable tests?

Read Full Article: Why I Won’t Get the Genetic Test for Breast Cancer | WIRED

Read Full Article: Why I Won’t Get the Genetic Test for Breast Cancer | WIRED

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