Tag Archive for Genetics

Fighting the Lung Cancer Stigma

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Despite the research, the promising new drugs, the many ongoing clinical trials, lung cancer remains a disease that affects too many people, too often. For patients and family members, the disease carries an added burden: a stigma that lung cancer and smoking go hand in hand, and that lung cancer patients brought this on themselves. Not only must these patients and family members face their disease, but they also must carry the guilt and blame that some people cast their way.

When we posted a recent infographic on smoking and cancer, we unintentionally helped promote that stigma. We’re deeply sorry and have removed the infographic.

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Tips for Talking to Your Children About Genetic Test Results

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There are many decisions parents face after testing for genetic cancer risk, including whether to tell their children and how to approach the conversation.

If you decide to talk to your children about the test results, allow yourself some time to process the information; you want to be calm and clear when you talk with them. Remember that you know your children best and there are no set rules for talking to kids about genetic tests.

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Should You Donate Tissue for Cancer Research?

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By Eric Schuller

If you recently learned you have cancer, donating a sample of your cancer tissue to science is probably the last thing on your mind. But it’s a topic that you might discuss with someone on your health care team, because cancer researchers often rely on donated tissue samples to help them better understand what causes cancer and which treatments are most effective. Read more

Genetic Testing, Cancer Risk, and Angelina Jolie’s Choice

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Actress Angelina Jolie is no stranger to the headlines, but she stunned the world with her Op-Ed in The New York Times, in which she shared her very private decision to have a preventive double mastectomy after testing positive for the BRCA1 gene mutation. “I hope that other women can benefit from my experience,” wrote Jolie. “Cancer is still a word that strikes fear into people’s hearts, producing a deep sense of powerlessness.” But for Jolie, and many others, getting genetic testing and taking action may offer control and comfort.

How do you know if genetic testing is right for you? Judy Garber, MD, MPH, is director of the Center for Cancer Genetics and Prevention at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and one of the leaders of the Institute’s Susan F. Smith Center for Women’s Cancers. She talks about the BRCA test, family history and cancer risk, and preventive options for breast and ovarian cancer.

 

 

The Dana-Farber Cancer Genetics and Prevention Program offers advanced genetic tests to determine risk, as well as counseling and education, once the results are determined.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

 

 

Do BRCA Mutations Increase a Woman’s Lifetime Cancer Risk?

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By Judy Garber, MD, MPH

We know that women who inherit harmful mutations in the genes BRCA1 or BRCA2 have a sharply increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer at an early age (prior to menopause). In fact, women with inherited BRCA1 or 2 mutations are about five times more likely to develop breast cancer – and at least 10 times more likely to develop ovarian cancer – than women without such mutations, according to the National Cancer Institute. Read more

Managing Cancer Risk: Miss America Contestant’s Decision Puts Genetics and Cancer Center Stage

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Win or lose, Miss America contestant Allyn Rose made news with her decision to undergo a double mastectomy. According to the Associated Press, Rose, who lost her mother to breast cancer, inherited a rare genetic mutation which might put her at greater risk for developing cancer.

Her decision to have the preventive surgery has sparked questions about genetics, cancer risk and strategies for preventing cancer.

If you have a question about genetic factors that increase cancer risk, you can ask the Dana-Farber cancer genetics team.

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How are genes involved in cancer?

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Genes don’t cause cancer, but genetic mutations can. Our cells have about 22,000 genes, which consist of DNA packed into chromosomes inside the cell nucleus. These genes control a wide range of functions, including cell growth and division. When the genes misbehave or mutate, cancer can develop. Read more