Most experts agree cancer testing should not be done routinely.
Unfortunately, the media and our cancer-phobic culture do not encourage women to listen to the facts. Too many women get scared and want to be tested, and too often the results will only serve to complicate the situation.
Testing with genetic counseling is generally recommended for women who have:
• Breast cancer at a young age
• Daughters and/or a first-degree relative who develop breast or ovarian cancer before the age of 50
• Breast cancer in both breasts
• Ashkenazi Jewish and Northern European ethnicity far enough away so they don’t share germs, but there is some evidence that garlic may cut down on colds (Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, March 14, 2012).
Testing also is recommended for men with breast cancer who have not taken anabolic steroids.
The results of the test are often confusing, so do not have it unless it makes sense in your family situation.
A negative test is only truly useful when a first-degree relative has a positive test. That is called a “true negative,” and it puts the woman with that result in the same category as the rest of the population for risk of breast and ovarian cancer.
Enhanced screening is recommended for women with positive mutations BRCA1 and BRCA2, starting in their late 20s to mid 30s. These women should have an MRI because it has less radiation and is less likely to increase breast cancer risk.
As for ovarian cancer, there are no effective cancer screening tests yet. The CA-125 blood test and ultrasounds or CT scans of the abdomen are used, but the radiation from the CT scan and the unreliability of the blood test make them generally useless.
So we are now faced with a much clearer picture of the most dreaded health problem of our time — cancer and specifically, breast cancer.
After reading this information — data scientifically vetted and provided by the American Cancer Society, National Cancer Institute, and Academy of Medicine — I hope you are less worried about developing cancer and feeling more empowered to take control of your life to prevent cancer from robbing you of it.
There is no doubt in my mind that this is a totally achievable goal without ribbons and cancer walks.
Posts by Erika Schwartz, M.D
© 2022 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.