Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Offers Benefits — and Barriers

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As with many other areas in health care, some patients may face barriers when it comes to genetic services for breast cancer.

Listen to, "Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer Offers Benefits — and Barriers." [LISTEN TIME: 2:09]

About 5% of patients with breast cancer carry genetic mutations that predisposed them to the disease. These are passed down through family — from mother to daughter, for example. Some of the most common inherited mutations include BRCA1 and BRCA2, but advances in genetic testing have shown that other mutations increase the risk of breast cancer as well.

A recent feature story delves further into what hereditary cancer is, how it is passed down through generations and how it may be prevented through early screening and treatments. We hear from Pat Wondra and Jennifer Fink, a mother-daughter duo who have had their own experience with hereditary cancer. Wondra received her diagnosis when Fink was a young adult. After genetic testing revealed she carried a genetic mutation that could increase her risk of a diagnosis, Fink took preventive actions.

However genetic services are not available equally to everyone who might be affected. As with many other areas in health care, some patients may face barriers when it comes to genetic services for breast cancer. CURE® spoke with a genetic counselor about disparities in genetic services and how they can affect patients and their families who may be affected by hereditary cancer.

Every aspect of breast cancer can be tiring for patients, including traveling to and from appointments, dealing with emotional turmoil and experiencing side effects of treatment. This can leave patients with more than just a rough night of sleep, causing many to experience disorders such as insomnia. An expert noted that sleep is vital for a patient’s physical, emotional and social well-being, and offers tips for getting a good night’s rest.

CURE® also spoke with a patient who had to undergo all her breast cancer surgeries and treatments during the COVID-19 pandemic, without family being able to accompany her. Although she might have been without loved ones during treatments, she never felt alone. She assures other patients that they are never alone during their journey.

We hope you find the stories both educational, and inspiring. As always thank you for reading.


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