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Genetic testing for sons' sake?

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Ask-the-Expert Online Conference

Question from SMer: Though I had no family history of breast cancer, I am now fighting advanced breast cancer. I have no daughters, but I do have two wonderful sons. Since men do get breast cancer, should I undergo genetic testing for their sake?
Answers - Carol Cherry, M.S.N., R.N., A.P.R.N., B.C. My answer would be to refer you for some risk assessment and genetic counseling, so that your entire family pattern could be looked at. It could be valuable for you to have genetic testing, but it should be looked at with a counselor to look at the whole family tree on both sides of the family to have a better chance of uncovering possible mutations. The things that we look for that give us a red flag for being an altered gene that could be passed on to daughters or sons would be earlier than typical age of diagnosis, having breast cancer in both breasts, having breast and ovarian cancer, and looking for other cancers in the family history other than breast cancer, for instance ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma. Sometimes, certainly not always, looking at the entire family history of cancer with a trained genetic professional helps us understand much more clearly how likely it is to find a gene that could be passed on to children.
Terri McHugh Also, a history of male breast cancer and ethnicity, such as Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry.

The Ask-the-Expert Online Conference Breast Cancer Risk and Your Family featured Terri McHugh, D.O., and Carol Cherry, M.S.N., R.N., A.P.R.N., B.C. answering your questions about genetics and breast cancer, and how your family could be affected.

Editor's Note: This conference took place in March 2008.

The materials presented in these conferences do not necessarily reflect the views of Breastcancer.org. A qualified healthcare professional should be consulted before using any therapeutic product or regimen discussed. All readers should verify all information and data before employing any therapies described here.

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