It's a common myth that you can only get the breast cancer gene from your mother's side of the family. Genetics counselors will tell you there are two genes that can run on either side of the family, which increases the breast cancer risk by 80 percent and ovarian cancer risk by 40 percent.
So, if breast cancer runs on either side of your family, should you get tested? Dr. Stephanie Hines says, "I tend to think about it as knowledge. Having the knowledge is power. Once you know you have a mutation and know you have a certain risk, you can take steps proactively and find things quicker at an earlier, more treatable stage. You can also take steps to prevent cancer, and you can inform your family so they can take steps to protect themselves as well."
Dr. Hines says women who know they have the gene may want to increase tests for breast, or take medicines like Tamoxifen. Some even elect to have surgery to remove the breasts or ovaries. She says getting tested is an individual decision, but ultimately, for many women, it has been a life saver.
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