JOPLIN, MO-- "Just in general, all our cells have suppressor genes that keep them from overgrowing. There are genes that tell the cells to grow, there are genes that tell the cells to stop growing." And Freeman Women's Pavilion Supervisor Wendy Chrisenberg said that when the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 suppressor genes mutate, it can allow for abnormal cell growth which can lead to breast cancer. So some high risk patients should consider genetic testing. "We'll have you fill out a family history form. It asks about your family history of ovarian cancer, of breast cancer in first degree relatives. How many relatives on either your mother or your father's side if there seems to be a trend."
The test itself is pretty straight forward, starting with a specialized mouthwash. "We'll have you rinse for a minute then spit the mouthwash into a container. We have you do that twice and then we send that off to the lab." Added Chrisenberg, if results are positive, there are several options to monitor your health. "We can screen you on a more regular basis, increase surveillance, do mammograms more often alternated with MRIs of the breast more often, clinical breast exams more often." Other preventive measures include taking the drug Tamoxifen and, in some cases, electing to have remove the ovaries or have a mastectomy.