May 23, 2013
Angelina Jolie’s double mastectomy raises gene testing awareness
Tracey Tatum, an oncology nurse practitioner at HCA Virginia’s Thomas Johns Cancer Hospital, appeared in a live television interview on WWBT NBC 12 with Ryan Nobles to talk about genetic breast testing in light of Angelina Jolie’s recent double mastectomy.
Tatum, who is one of four advanced practice nurses in the HCA Virginia Cancer Care Network who are certified as genetics nurse educators, discussed the BRCA1 genetic test. The test detects the breast cancer 1 or early onset gene and is the same test that determined that Jolie had an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.
Genetic testing is a process in which the inherited genetic material or DNA is carefully tested for changes. This DNA is obtained from a simple test, usually analyzing a patient’s blood or saliva.
According to the HCA Virginia Cancer Care Network, awareness of the presence of genetic risk for cancer can provide important and sometimes life-saving options. Those with genetic risk do not follow the same screening guidelines as the general population, but are given specialized follow-up guidelines.
The HCA Virginia Cancer Care Network also offers the following criteria for individuals seeking additional information about being referred for genetic testing. These include:
Two first-degree relatives (mother, daughter, or sister) diagnosed with breast cancer, one of whom is younger than 50 years
Three or more first- or second-degree relatives (aunt or grandmother) diagnosed regardless of age
Combination of first- and second-degree relatives diagnosed with breast and ovarian cancer regardless of age
First-degree relative with bilateral breast cancer
Breast cancer in a male relative
Combination of two or more first or second-degree relatives with ovarian cancer
For women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent - any first-degree or two second-degree relatives on same side of family diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.
See Tatum’s interview on NBC 12 below: