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Are there any tests to predict cancer through family history? - Online Doctor Chats

Date : 06-Apr-2014
User rating for this question
Very Good Posted in: Cancer
Answered by

General & Family Physician
Practicing since : 2002
Answered : 106 Questions
User:Hi there,

I am just after some advice regarding breat cancer and my family.

My grandma was diagnosed in her late 40's with breat cancer and had part of the breat removed. She went through all the treatment and went into remission. Unfortunately it came back in her spine and over a period of years spread throughout her whole body.

A few months ago I found out a 2nd cousin who is in her late 30's maybe early 40's I believe, has also been diagnosed with breast cancer and went into for a double mastectomy.

My question is.... Am i at a higher risk of getting cancer? If so, how high and what should I do next?

Let me read your query for few minutes to be able to have a good discussion here.
Doctor:I read through the details. Currently there are no enough clinical studies available that scores risk rates based on family history of cancers.
User:What kind of risk category do you think I have
User:Sorry that I am in
Doctor:However it has some relation with genetic factors. You may be aware of a gene called BRCA which can run across heredity line.
Doctor:the risks that you would have this gene thereby increasing your chances of cancers are higher if it was your sibling or mother who had the cancer.
User:Ok so there is no need to have any testing done to see if I have the BRCA gene
Doctor:BRCA gene testing is done in patients who have breast cancer. Instead of testing genes I suggest my patients to regularly (say once a week) perform self examination.
Doctor:Frequent mammogram after 35 years is a better screening tests.
Doctor:That being said, if your hospital centre provides gene testing you can go for it.
Doctor:Presence of BRCA gene doubles the risk of cancer.
User:Do you think it is necessary based on my family history or not really?
Doctor:May I ask some details about your menstrual cycle to answer this better.
Doctor:May I know when was your first menstrual cycle?
User:I think at 12 or 13
Doctor:Are you married and have children?
User:Not at the moment
Doctor:Right. Do you have regular periods?
User:Yes but very heavy. Had a laparoscopy last month due to a cyst on my left ovary
User:A haemorrhaging
Doctor:Were those benign cyst?
User:a haemorragic cyst
Doctor:That's answer my question.
Doctor:I would place your risks of cancer as low.
Doctor:If you would like a figure, it is as low as 7-9%
Doctor:This is an indirect indicator considering you attained menarchy at average age and have no history of menstrual problems and have no history of breast cancer amongst the close blood relatives.
User:Ok great. Thankyou
Doctor:You need not be worried about testing BRCA
Doctor:but do perform breast examination atleast once a week
Doctor:Do you have any other questions?
User:No thank you that is all.
Doctor:Thanks for consulting me.
Doctor:Bye for now.
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