National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week: The Importance of DNA Screening

by Amelia Old
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This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Counsyl. The opinions and text are all mine.

We are currently in the middle of National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week. This is a time to raise awareness and recognize those affected by various forms of breast and ovarian cancer that are hereditary. 10% of the time cancer is linked to a single change in a gene, or mutation, that has been passed down from generation to generation. This is “hereditary cancer.”

I don’t know much about my family’s medical history. While I know cancer exists, I don’t know if there is anything that can be passed down. In this day and age, that’s scary. More and more I’m seeing people my age (mid 30s) develop both breast and ovarian cancer among other types of cancers.

There are ways, however, with the power of technology, to protect yourself and to understand what your body is made of and what, if anything, you should be concerned about. Counsyl is a DNA screening company. Whether you are pregnant or concerned about your family history of cancer, they can test your DNA by simply using a small amount of your saliva or blood. It’s that easy. Through Counsyl, you can also have a physician-ordered test called Reliant Cancer Screen that helps you understand the risk you have for certain types of cancer which looks at up to 36 genes that are typically associated with an increased risk of some cancers. Early awareness, many times, of various conditions is key to surviving. Early detection helps you make better choices for yourself AND your family.

I recently read that MILLIONS carry BRCA (the breast cancer gene) and they have no idea about the risk that they have. That blew my mind. MILLIONS have no idea that they are at higher risk for these hereditary cancers. It’s unfortunate because if you get this screening and find out you have higher cancer risk due to a gene mutation, you can actually work with your doctor to develop a screening plan, like earlier or more frequent mammograms.

Me with my husband and three amazing children

At my age, I am not able to receive a mammogram. They won’t order it until I’m at least 40. I’ve tried numerous times because I have known so many close to my age that had breast cancer. These are not diseases that hit just the elderly. Cancer does not discriminate! It’s also important to understand that a mammogram does not pick up all abnormalities. There are rare types of cancer that may not be caught through regular screening. That’s why DNA screening is so important.

I am a mom to three children and want to be here for a long time to watch them blossom into their own. I encourage you to also talk to your doctor to see if you would benefit from genetic screening. Make the commitment to yourself. Knowing your DNA makeup, educating yourself, and being self aware will help you when it comes to risks of any type of cancer. This can also be the difference between life and death.

About Counsyl:

DNA testing and genetic counseling company committed to helping patients understand their DNA and how it can inform important health decisions. Counsyl’s Reliant™ Cancer Screen is a physician-ordered test that provides a simple way to learn your risk for certain types of cancer using a small sample of saliva or blood to look at up to 36 different genes associated with an increased risk of certain cancers.

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