|PATIENT STORY: GENETIC COUNSELING
HELPS FAMILY FIGHT CANCER RISK
Thirty-nine year old Sheri Reed's family health history includes breast cancer that took the lives of her grandmother and three of her grandmother's four sisters at an early age. More recently, Reed's mother was diagnosed with and treated for ovarian cancer, after surviving breast cancer at the age of 33.
Reed, of Plainfield, already had a double mastectomy at age 35 after her last child was born, but wondered what else she should do to reduce her risk of ovarian cancer, which is related to hereditary breast cancer.
Her OB-GYN suggested an oophorectomy (ovary removal), but Reed wanted know if it was worth the risk to undergo this additional surgery.
In May 2010, Reed made an appointment to see Edward Hospital genetic counselor Elyse Weber.
"In Sheri's case, her extensive family history was a major cause for concern," says Weber.
Reed reported that her mother had tested negative for the basic BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Given Reed's strong family pattern, Weber suggested her mother have a more recently developed genetic test called BART, which identifies another type of mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
The test solved the mystery. Reed's mother tested positive for the BART mutation.
The next step: Sheri and her 36-year old sister Sue would get tested. Each had a 50-50 chance of having inherited the same mutation. Sheri's BART results came back negative, which means she will keep her ovaries. Unfortunately, Sue tested positive and will have an oophorectomy in spring 2012.
"Surgery is one preventive measure for people at high risk, but we also have medications and accelerated screening schedules," says Samir Undevia, MD, a hematologist and medical oncologist with Edward Cancer Center who leads Edward's cancer risk assessment program. "Our goal is to give the patient all the information they need to make an informed decision."
For more information, visit www.edward.org/cancer or www.edward.org/geneticcounseling.