Genetic testing can help people plan for the future

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by Jennifer Thomas

azfamily.com

Posted on August 31, 2012 at 11:03 AM

Updated Friday, Aug 31 at 11:06 AM

PHOENIX -- Genetics can give people a glimpse into the future when their parents die of a disease such as cancer.

A new testing program is giving one Valley woman hope.   

"I just went in for my routine checkup and they felt a lump," said Kristin, who did not want to use her last name.

Her life changed in April when she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
 
"I actually thought it was from my grandmother's side on my mom's side because there is so much cancer," she said.

Kristin lost her mother to ovarian cancer a year ago so getting more answers was critical.
   
"To kind of find out where it came from because I'm pretty young to have this type of breast cancer that I have," she said. "It's usually found in women 50 and older."

She was able to get her answers at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center where a new clinical cancer genetics program was recently launched.
 
"Just in the last 10 years there's been a big push of people to learn ancestry, their hereditary disease traits, what am I going to get, what can I prevent?" said April O'Connor, the genetics program director.

O'Connor said finding out there's a hereditary cancer gene in the family can help people better plan for the future.

"Now she knows what her risk figures are and she can choose the path that is correct for her," O'Connor said.

While genetic testing isn't for everyone, Kristin feels she made the right decision because doctors were able to determine her breast cancer comes from her mom's father's side.
 
"Knowing that it's genetic, I'm at a 50 percent chance of it coming back and so that helps with my decision on what kind of surgery to have and things like that, and it also helps me to educate my cousins to let them know that they need to go and get the blood test done to see if they have the gene," Kristin said.

For more information, visit www.bannerhealth.com.  

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