Breast cancer is serious threat that faces many women and even some men. Dr. John L. Bell, UT Cancer Center director and Surgical Oncologist will speak today on the role of genetics and hormones in the development and treatm
ent of breast cancer. Linda Cruze, RN and program coordinator of the UT Breast Care Service will discuss services available to women and the genetic and hereditary types of cancer.
The program will be held at 10 a.m. in the Chota Recreation Center in Tellico Village.
According to Cruze, there are hereditary types of cancer, and then there are sporadic types of cancer.
For women who are at high risk for hereditary cancer, they are women who are "pre-menopausal and there are at least two or more breast cancers in their familial history, or one ovarian cancer at any age of a family member."
Genetic testing can be performed on women who are in the high risk category which can determine if they have BRCA I or BRCA II genes for breast or ovarian cancer. Cruze said the BR stands for breast, the CA for cancer, and the numbers mean it is either t
he first or second gene found for breast or ovarian cancer.
Hereditary breast or ovarian cancer is not as common as sporadic cancer though which can be from exposure to environmental elements like chemical exposure, pollution or pesticides.
"Only 10 percent of the women in the high risk that fit the criteria actually have the BRCA I, BRCA II gene. Most breast cancer does not occur in women who are in that high risk group. Most are sporadic n that 40-50 age range and it has nothing to do wit
h their family history," said Cruze.
She added that hereditary or genetic breast cancer is about 10 percent of all those that are tested for genetic cancer. Another 84 -90 percent are sporadic breast cancer.
Women are not the only ones affected either. Men can have sporadic breast cancer as well as genetic. In men, 1-3 percent are affected. According to Cruze, out of about nine men this year, three have positive breast cancer at the UT Medical Center.
"It's exactly the same as women and also women can carry breast cancer genes from men, their fathers, just the same as they do from their mothers. If you have a male family member with breast cancer, you're in that genetic high risk group," said Cruze.
Genetic testing has helped women and men determine ahead of time whether they are at risk so they can decide what they want to do to avoid possibly developing cancer.
A patient that is high risk can meet with a geneticist who gives genetic counseling. If the patient wants to continue with testing then the geneticist works with the insurance company and blood is sent off to the MYRIAD company who tests for BRCA genes.
Then a consultation is scheduled to discuss the results with the patient. If the test comes back positive for the gene, some women want to go ahead and have both breasts removed, said Cruze. Others opt to take a drug known as Tamoxisen.
Getting diagnosis is quicker now too.
"Dr. John Bell had a vision when he first came here back in 1988 about women having easy access to care because in general if a woman finds a lump it can take 6 weeks to 2 or 3 months for her to get through the system and be evaluated," said Cruze.
At the UT Medical Center though physicians interested in Breast Care met for a year and a half to develop guidelines for breast care. If the patient has a lump and it's suspicious, they can see a doctor within 48 hours and within a week they will have th
eir diagnostic evaluation.
Cruze encourages people who have questions or are interested in learning more about the topic to come to the event.
It's free and registration is required.
"I would say if people want to learn more about genetics and about what we have learned in the last five years about breast cancer to come out and learn."
For more information, call the Health Education Office at 670-6123.