Wellness Wednesday: How genetic testing saved a Verona woman’s life

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Wellness Wednesday: How genetic testing saved a Verona woman’s life

Posted: Oct 13, 2021 / 08:01 AM EDT / Updated: Oct 13, 2021 / 09:16 AM EDT SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSY

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SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — With October being breast cancer awareness month, it’s a good time to talk to your doctor about genetic testing.

If you have a family history of breast cancer, you may qualify to get the blood test that maps out your risk.

Janice Reed from Verona credits genetic testing with saving her life and she wants everyone to do it if they can.

Her story started long before she was born. “Most of my family is deceased from cancer,” Reed said.

Sadly, they didn’t have the same medical opportunities Janice had.

Due to her family history, Nurse Practitioner Mya Robertson was following her closely at St. Joseph’s Health Breast Care and Surgery Center.

About two years ago, an MRI picked up an abnormal mass on the same day they opted to do genetic testing.

When the biopsy came back, they learned Reed was positive for breast cancer.

Then her genetic testing came back, giving them a full picture. Reed has the BRCA1 mutation.

“It’s [BRCA1 mutation] an increased risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer and pancreatic cancer.”

Mya Robertson

The BRCA1 mutation also heightens Reed’s risk of recurrence, so her doctors helped Reed make a tough choice to get life-changing but life-saving surgery.

“I had a double mastectomy and followed with chemo, eight rounds of chemo,” Reed said.

The chemo treated her breast cancer while the surgery was a pro-active decision to try and prevent it from reoccurring.

“Once you take the five-minute blood test, that tool will follow you throughout your life,” Reed said.

She’s counting on her genetic results to help her know her risk and stay ahead of cancer. Now, Reed is encouraging everyone to know their risk and so is Robertson.

People with BRCA1 have over an 80 percent chance of developing breast cancer by the time they’re 80. They have over 50 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer by the time they’re 80. The general population has about a 10 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

Mya Robertson, Nurse Practitioner

It can be unsettling to hear you do have a cancer-causing gene that increases your risk of getting cancer. However, it doesn’t mean you will get cancer.

“Knowledge is power,” said Robertson. Having the facts allows doctors to use tests and scans to screen for and catch cancer earlier than they would otherwise.

Robertson says genetic testing can determine someone’s personal risk for breast, ovarian, gastric, pancreatic, prostate, uterine cancers, and melanoma.

If you do have a family history of cancer, you should talk to your doctor to see if you qualify.

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