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Cancer Risk Assessment
May 17, 2013

Eyewitness News Reporter Darrah Wilcox Actress Angelina Jolie made headlines this week when she announced she had a double mastectomy after learning she had an 87 percent chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer. She opened the dialogue for men and women alike.

"We have options. Very rarely are we able to do something that we know is going to reduce your risk or prevent cancer," said Lisa Muto, Genetic Nurse Practitioner at the Edwards Comprehensive Cancer Center.

While only about five to ten percent of breast cancer is thought to be heredity, test results showed Jolie had a harmful BRCA1 gene mutation, which can increase your risk to an average of 65 percent, and as much as 87 percent.

Cabell Huntington Hospital has the Hereditary Cancer Risk Assessment Program available to all men and women. Muto is trained to take you through the screening process, whether you have a personal or family history of cancer or are just curious is the testing is right for you. "Even if you don't have a mutation, even if you're not tested, you might be eligible for additional screening then we can find cancer earlier when it's a lot more treatable," she said.

Additional screening could mean earlier mammograms or yearly MRIs.

While the screening is for everyone, it's important to know what you'll do with the results. Muto said, "We don't want somebody coming back with a positive result then not knowing their option, that we are going to recommend a hysterectomy, because there's not a good way to screen for ovarian cancer, that a mastectomy is an option, and that's something you should know before you have the test because it might change your mind."

While risk factors aren't limited to these, here are some noteworthy ones.

- Your age; your risk increases slightly each decade after age 30.
- Breast cancer among one or more of your close relatives, such as a sister, mother, or daughter.
- Having no children or having your first child in your mid-thirties or later.
- Having your first menstrual period before age 12.
- Gaining weight after menopause, especially after natural menopause and/or after age 60.
- Race. White women are at greater risk than black women. However, black women diagnosed with breast cancer are more likely to die of the disease.

This program is open to anyone, and you don't need a doctor's referral. It costs $20 for the initial visit and $10 for additional visits. While insurance won't be billed for he visits, they will bill insurance for genetic testing if it is done.

You can call 304-399-6572 for more information.

Copyright ©2013 WCHS-TV Eyewitness News. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


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