The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Health & Fitness

June 30, 2013

Women with BRCA mutation should know prevention choices

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Careful monitoring for ovarian cancer usually involves having appointments twice a year that include pelvic exams and transvaginal ultrasound imaging. Blood tests to measure your cancer antigen 125 levels also may be included as part of surveillance for ovarian cancer.

Some prescription medications, such as tamoxifen, may help lower your cancer risk, too. These are not good choices for everyone, though, so talk to your doctor about whether taking one would be appropriate for you. The risk reduction is greater for BRCA2 than BRCA1.

For someone in your situation, a good next step would be to have an in-depth conversation with your doctor about your level of cancer risk and options. Based on that, you can decide what you want to do next. For some people, that may mean having preventive surgery, such as mastectomy. But that’s not the only option.

If you do decide to have surgery at some point, there’s no set age by which it must happen. It should be when it feels right to you. Although not driven by data, many women who choose prophylactic mastectomy often have it a few years earlier than the age at which their family member developed breast cancer.

The bottom line is that you need to be well-informed about your choices, understand how they fit your situation and, based on your preferences, make decisions that are right for you. -- Judy C. Boughey, M.D., Surgery, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn.

(Medical Edge from Mayo Clinic is an educational resource and doesn’t replace regular medical care. E-mail a question to medicaledge@mayo.edu. For more information, visit www.mayoclinic.org.)

 

 

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