Guideline #2 For Young Women With Breast Cancer: Know Your Risk

Rethink’s second guideline in the Care Guidelines for Young Women with Breast Cancer stresses the importance of going over your family’s history with your doctor. As a young woman with breast cancer, you should be given a referral to a genetic counsellor to understand your likelihood of inherited risk and, if appropriate, you should be offered the option of genetic testing. Knowing your inherited risk can help you make important decisions that can determine your treatment options.

Here are two testimonials from young women who can speak to the importance of Guideline #2.

“Having a full family history helped me make informed decisions regarding treatment and surgery options. Being worried about the high risk of carrying the BRCA gene mutation would impact the decision to have a full or bilateral mastectomy instead of a lumpectomy. It would also prompt screening for other related cancers such as ovarian cancer, which could result in preventative surgery. I was lucky to have had a surgeon who took my family history information into account and agreed to my request of a bilateral mastectomy. I was diagnosed with the BRCA mutation and underwent a hysterectomy and oophorectomy. Having this knowledge early in my treatment made my journey less traumatic.” –Maura, diagnosed at age 37

“I am adopted from birth so when I was diagnosed with breast cancer I did not know my family history. Genetic testing was not given as an option to me — I requested it. When I met with the genetic counsellor she did not think she could get approved for the testing as I had no known family history. I advocated to be tested, as I had no idea whether my birth parents had any history of breast cancer. I felt that the testing was important to me as it would influence my near future treatment discussions. I also wanted the testing to determine risks for both my son and daughter. It was important to know when they should start screening. The genetic testing was approved and I was negative for carrying the gene.” –Sandra, diagnosed at age 42

To download the Care Guidelines and learn more about your rights as a young woman with breast cancer, click here.

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