Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

After Angelina Jolie's mastectomy announcement: Answers on genetic testing

Angelina Jolie's announcement that she had a double mastectomy because she has a genetic mutation that puts her at high risk of breast cancer may have a lot of women wondering if they should be tested for the BRCA gene. Here are some frequently asked questions, as well as resources for more information:

What is the BRCA gene?

BRCA1 and BRCA2 belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Testing can determine if you have a mutation in these genes that greatly increases a woman's risk of breast and ovarian cancer.

What does the test involve?

The test requires a blood sample, which is typically sent away for analysis. It usually takes several weeks to get the results.

What does the test cost, and is it covered by insurance?

The tests can cost as much as several thousand dollars. Major insurers offer coverage, standard under the Affordable Care Act.

What can I do if I test positive?

Many women choose prophylactic surgery to reduce their risks. This includes removing healthy breasts with bilateral prophylactic mastectomy, the procedure that Jolie had. Women may also remove healthy fallopian tubes and ovaries. Another option is special screening, using MRIs that are more sensitive than mammography.

Does surgery mean I won't get cancer?

Women with this genetic mutation can greatly reduce their risk of breast and ovarian cancer with surgery, but not eliminate it entirely. And both women and men who test positive face increased risks of other cancers.

What risks do men face?

Men with the BRCA mutation face may face increased risks of breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer and prostate cancer. They also can, like women, transmit the mutation to their children

Should I be tested?

Talk to your doctor or a genetic counselor about your family history. The BRCA mutation is rare — only one in every 350 to 500 people will test positive. You are more likely to have it if your family has any of the following: Ashkenazi Jewish heritage, a relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer, breast cancer in both breasts or breast cancer in one breast before the age of 50.

IF YOU GO

The Tampa Bay chapter of the advocacy group FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) will hold an open meeting for women concerned about genetic risk of cancer, May 19 at 1 p.m. at Square 1 Burgers and Bar, 3701 N. Henderson Blvd., Tampa. For more information: www.FacingOurRisk.org.

For information on genetic counseling, go to www.informedDNA.com.

FURTHER READING

Sue Friedman and Rebecca Sutphen's 2012 book, Confronting Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, Johns Hopkins University Press, is $14.59 at amazon.com.

After Angelina Jolie's mastectomy announcement: Answers on genetic testing 05/14/13 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 14, 2013 7:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Tampa International Airport morphing into a mini-city unto itself

    Airlines

    TAMPA — By the end of the 2026, Joe Lopano wants Tampa International Airport to function as its own little city.

    Artist rendering of phase two of the $1 billion construction expansion of Tampa International Airport. The airport is transforming 17 acres of airport property that will include at least one hotel, retail and office space and a gas station, among other things.
[Courtesy of Tampa International Airport]
  2. William March: Sheriff Gee denies his resignation was timed to help GOP

    News

    Sheriff David Gee is denying through spokesmen that he planned his 2016 re-election and subsequent resignation to help Republicans hold the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office. But Democrats say it seems obvious he did.

  3. Trump meeting with G-7 leaders after going on offensive

    Nation

    TAORMINA, Italy — In the Middle East, President Donald Trump was feted with pageantry, the leaders of Saudi Arabia and Israel seemingly in competition to outdo the other with the warmth of their welcomes and the depth of their pledges of cooperation.

    From left, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, U.S. President Donald Trump and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni arrive for the group photo at the G7 Taormina summit on the island of Sicily on Friday  in Taormina, Italy. [Getty Images]
  4. Perspective: As the toll climbs, advocates bring renewed attention to Florida gun violence

    Perspective

    Times Staff Writer

    Like most 12-year-old girls, Ra'Mya Eunice loved slumber parties.

    The Empire State Building in New York City was bathed in tangerine light last year to mark National Gun Violence Awareness Day. It was part of the Wear Orange campaign led by the non-profit Everytown for Gun Safety. [Courtesy of Everytown for Gun Safety]
  5. Lawyer says Kushner willing to cooperate with investigators

    Nation

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, is willing to cooperate with federal investigators looking into ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, his attorney said.

    In this May 23 photo, White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, left, and his wife Ivanka Trump watch during a visit by President Donald Trump to Yad Vashem to honor the victims of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The Washington Post is reporting that the FBI is investigating meetings that Trump's son-in-law, Kushner, had in December 2016, with Russian officials. [AP photo]