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Genetic tests for breast cancer: psychological and social effects



Are you thinking of getting a genetic test to find out if you have a mutation in any of the breast cancer susceptibility genes – BRCA1 or BRCA2? First, consider whether you are in the small minority of women for whom the test may be helpful.

The psychological, emotional, and social implications of genetic testing are also worth considering for you and your family members.

Positive Test Results

Genetic tests that detect a BRCA gene mutation can result in a number of reactions in learning your test results, including:

  • Fear of developing cancer. Altered BRCA gene function That does not mean that you are definitely getting breast cancer or ovarian cancer . Test results can not accurately determine what the risk is, what age cancer can develop, how aggressively the disease can progress, or how the risk of cancer is compared to that of other women.
  • Facilitation of the risk status. You can see your test results in a positive light: Now you know what you have in front of you. You can increase cancer surveillance or take risk mitigation measures, such as preventive surgery or medication. They also have the potential to educate and educate family members who may be affected.
  • Strained family relationships. Some of your relatives may not want to know if a gene mutation has been detected in the family. However, keeping the truth from close family members can be difficult when planning proactive measures such as preventive surgery. Think about how and if you share your test results with family members.
  • Feeling guilty about passing on a gene mutation to your child. Recognizing your genetic status can lead to apprehensions that your child or your children fear have also inherited the gene mutation. If you learn that you are a carrier of the breast cancer gene, it may raise further questions and concerns about when is the best time to discuss the results with your children.
  • Stress in important medical decisions. Receiving a positive test result means that you should consider cancer prevention and early detection strategies that are best for you. If you discuss options with a genetic counselor, a breast specialist, or an oncologist, you can help.
  • Concerns about discrimination by health insurance. In the United States, the 2008 federal data protection law for genetics protects individuals who undergo a genetic test. It prohibits insurers to refuse health insurance or increase premium or contribution rates based on genetic information. The law also covers protection against employment discrimination.

Talk to your genetic counselor, doctor, or health care provider about these or other concerns.

Negative Test Results

Learning that no changes were detected in the genetic tests The BRCA genes can cause feelings of:

  • Relief that you do not have an increased risk of cancer. If your test result is negative and there is a known mutation in your family, you may feel that having a heavy weight lifted your shoulders off. However, given your family history, you should develop a health care plan with your doctor that fits your family history.
    It would be a mistake to let your negative test results lull you into a false sense of security. You still have the same cancer risk as the general population – or perhaps a little higher because of your family history – and your breast cancer chances for life are about 1 in 8.
  • "Survivor" blame. 19659023] Negative testing for a BRCA mutation can provoke feelings of guilt, especially if other family members carry the mutation and are at increased risk for cancer.
  • Uncertainty about your cancer risk. Test results are not always clear-cut. If you get a negative test result, your doctor may not be able to draw definitive conclusions about your risk status. Nor does negative testing mean that you will not one day get cancer, as positive tests do not mean that you will eventually develop cancer.

Variants or Unknown Test Results

In some cases, tests are identified as a gene change that was not observed in previous families, and there is not enough information about the change to know if they are at increased risk for breast or breast cancer Causing ovarian cancer. This is known as an indefinite variant.

If you find that you have a genetic variant of unknown importance, it may lead to:

  • Confusion and fear of your cancer risk
  • Frustration over the lack of accurate information on cancer risk
  • Challenges at Cancer Prevention, Treatment and Prevention Decisions

Living with Test Results

Most people would be worried if they had the opportunity to find out if their risk of serious illness was above average. In fact, you may decide that you would rather not know it and do not go testing. This is a valid choice.

It's also normal to experience sadness, anxiety or even annoyance when your test results are positive. It is more likely that you will experience a deeper negative reaction if you do not expect positive results – for example, if your family history is not so significant.

Research Shows This Over the Long Term Most people cope well with the knowledge about an increased cancer risk and do not suffer from the test results.

The decision for a preventive (prophylactic) operation when the BRCA gene is tested positive is not urgent. You have time to research and understand all your options before making a decision. Sometimes it is helpful to seek a second opinion or to meet a breast specialist who can help you to weigh the risks and benefits of the options available depending on your individual situation.

For many, it is easy to know the risk status in order to reduce the psychological and emotional burden. You can be proactive and create a personalized plan to handle your increased risk.

Updated: 2016-08-25

Release date: 2006-11-20


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