From an interview with
Dr. Amy Murrell
Pee Dee Surgical Group
Many women with breast cancer face genetic testing and counseling, even before surgery, because some mutated genes can create a higher risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
“For all women, who come to my office with a newly diagnosed breast cancer, I discuss genetic testing,” says McLeod Surgeon Dr. Amy Murrell. “We want see if they have any of the genes for breast cancer or any of the other cancer genes that we know of today.
“It’s a newer frontier as far as cancer treatment goes,” says Dr. Murrell. “You draw blood or swab the patient’s mouth. Then you look at the DNA to determine whether they have any of the cancer-causing genes. If they do, many times we can treat it or remove the organ before the cancer occurs. Or we can at least watch it very closely and undertake surgery before it is in an advanced stage.
“Today’s mammograms pick up these tiny cancers that are not just treatable, but curable. So, most of the women, who are diagnosed with breast cancer at McLeod, are detected at a very early stage. These women have a totally normal life expectancy. As surveillance and imaging has improved, we find and treat cancer earlier.”
ACTION YOU CAN TAKE
“At age 40, a woman should start having yearly mammograms. But I would say any woman who is 25 or older with a breast abnormality should definitely be seen by their doctor. Usually, we say 10 years prior to the age at which a family member was diagnosed with breast cancer, you should start annual mammograms. So, if your mother was diagnosed at 38, then at 28, you need regular screening.”
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