Using genetic testing to possibly prevent breast cancer

Posted at 6:20 AM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 07:20:00-04

Over the years, genetic testing has become easier and more affordable for many curious about their health.

And one Lafayette doctor says it's how you use the genetic health information, especially for breast cancer prevention, that can potentially save your life.

Dr. Retha Williams with Our Lady of Lourdes says, with a lot of misinformation floating around, it is easy for someone to get confused when it comes to genetic testing and the role it plays in helping to prevent breast cancer.

"Some women think that, okay, I'm negative for the BRCA1 and 2 gene mutation so they think they'll never get a breast cancer and they don't go in for their screenings," says Dr. Williams. "That absolutely does not mean that you're not going to get a breast cancer."

To clear up those misconceptions, genetic counseling is offered before and after the tests are done.

"I think genetic counseling is helpful to help these women understand, number one, what's being tested, why they're being tested for that, and what that information means," she says.

While genetic testing online may seem like the easier route, Dr. Williams says genetic counseling is not offered and could lead to issues down the road.

As for the testing, it is relatively simple.

"You get your blood drawn, if your scared of needles you can do a swab or saliva test," Dr. Williams says. "That is sent off to a reputable lab and it takes two weeks to get the results back."

Whether cancer runs in your family or you just want to err on the side of caution, genetic testing is as easy avenue to take and can potentially protect your family in generations to come.

Good candidates for breast cancer related genetic testing are those who have had breast cancer and those who have family members that were or are breast cancer patients.