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Roswell Mom Promotes Cancer Gene Test | News

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Roswell Mom Promotes Cancer Gene Test


ROSWELL, Ga. -- Looking at her family history, Heidi Barron of Roswell assumed her cancer risk was much higher than normal.

Her mom Wendy Sheron survived breast cancer in 1999, but she died of ovarian cancer eight years later.

"It's a huge loss in life," said Heidi Barron. "I won't ever get over it, but I promised her I would be okay, so I am."

Barron also has a better sense of her real risk now because of genetic testing.

In 2002 Barron and her mom did a simple blood test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations.

Her mom tested positive but Barron did not.

"If someone has the gene mutation, there's a 50/50 chance their offspring will have it," Barron said. "And I was the lucky 50 percent that will not."

"I have the same risk as the general population for contracting either one of those diseases," Barron said.

That means Barron's children don't have the mutation either, which is a huge relief. But Barron wishes her mom had been tested earlier.

"I often think that if they had tested her for the gene mutation after breast cancer, she would never would have suffered through ovarian cancer," Barron said. "She'd still with here with us."

Those who test positive can monitor their own health more aggressively or even have their ovaries or breasts removed as a precaution.

Experts recommend genetic counseling before testing to help patients know what to expect.

Women and men are encouraged to consider genetic testing for Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome if any member of either side of the family has had the following:

  • Breast cancer before age 50
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • 2 primary breast cancers in an individual
  • Both breast and ovarian cancer in an individual
  • Male breast cancer at any age
  • 2 or more breast cancers in a family, one under age 50
  • Women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent with breast or ovarian cancer at any age
  • A previously identified BRCA mutation in the family