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Laurie's story

Written by Community Health Network on 3/21/2014 1:00:00 PM

Laurie Plue had a history of breast and ovarian cancer in her family. Knowing that her risk for developing cancer was increased due to her family lineage, she chose to have genetic testing performed to determine whether or not she carried the cancer gene.

Here is her story.

To donate to Community's patient assistance fund that supports genetic testing, visit our Community Health Network Foundation website.

Genetic counseling

At Community Health Network, we frequently use genetic testing and have genetic counselors to shepherd patients through the process. Our certified genetic counselor, Rebekah Krukenberg, MS, CGC, LGC, helps breast cancer patients understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease. For more information, call 317-621-8988.


Women with BRCA mutations should remove ovaries

Written by Community Health Network on 2/27/2014 7:00:00 PM

A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology studied nearly 5,800 women with specific genetic mutations called BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Researchers found that women with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations who proactively had their ovaries removed reduced their risk of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer by 80 percent, and their overall risk of death by 77 percent.

BRCA stands for breast cancer susceptibility genes, a class of genes that are tumor suppressors. Mutations of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes have been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

According to the study, women with BRCA1 mutations should have preventive ovarian surgery (known as prophylactic oophorectomy) by age 35, because waiting past that age is shown to increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

In contrast, the study suggests that women with BRCA2 mutations can delay surgery until their 40s, as their risk of ovarian cancer is not as high.

Dr. Wafic ElMasri, ovarian cancer specialist"Patients with BRCA mutations are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer, which is usually diagnosed at advanced stages and is lethal in the majority of cases," said Dr. Wafic ElMasri, OB/GYN and gynecological oncologist at Community Health Network.

"We do not have reliable screening tests that detect ovarian cancer at early stages," said ElMasri. "BRCA mutation carriers should undergo risk-reducing removal of the fallopian tubes and ovaries between ages 35 and 40, or when childbearing is complete." 

How do I know if I have a BRCA gene mutation?

To determine if you carry the hereditary gene, know your family history. If there is a first or second degree connection to breast or ovarian cancer in the family, your risk for being diagnosed with cancer is increased. You can then have a genetic test performed to determine if you do, in fact, have the gene mutation.

Where can I get genetic testing?

Community Health Network provides genetic testing and counseling for women who believe that they are at risk for developing cancer. To learn more, or to schedule a test, call 317-621-8988.


Cancer answers: What is genetic testing?

Written by Community Health Network on 2/25/2014 9:00:00 AM

Simply put, genetic testing is the process of using medical tests to look for changes (mutations) in a person’s genes or chromosomes.

The type of testing most often used to check for cancer risk is called predictive gene testing. It’s used to look for gene mutations that might put a person at risk of getting cancer. It’s usually done in a patient who has a history of cancer in their family and a chance of inheriting the disease. The test helps to determine if a person has a certain gene mutation known to increase the risk for a certain cancer or confirm a suspected gene mutation in a person or family member.

An example is testing for changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes (known breast cancer genes) in a woman whose mother and sister had breast cancer. According to the American Cancer Society, only about five to ten percent of all cancers are thought to be related to an inherited gene change that strongly affects a person’s risk for a certain type of cancer.

At Community Health Network, we frequently use genetic testing and have genetic counselors to shepherd patients through the process. Our certified genetic counselor, Rebekah Krukenberg, MS, CGC, LGC, helps breast cancer patients understand and adapt to the medical, psychological and familial implications of genetic contributions to disease.

Questions about genetic counseling?

Call the Community Health Network genetic counseling hotline at 317-621-8988.


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