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Gene Test, Preventive Surgery Save Women's Lives

Preventive Surgery Cuts Death Risk for Women With BRCA Cancer Genes

Advice to Women Considering the BRCA Test

It's clear from the Rebbeck study that women can save their own lives by getting the BRCA test and, if they test positive, by having their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed.

Grossman agrees that high-risk women should get the test. But she warns such women to get tested on their own terms, in their own time.

"Do not get tested until you are ready, whether that means having more kids or coming up with a family planning strategy," she says. "Don't let people push you into testing earlier than you are ready for. You are the one who has to walk around feeling like a cancer bomb."

And for those who get the bad news that they do, indeed, carry a BRCA mutation, Grossman says there's no single correct response for every woman.

"There are a whole lot of ways to die, and you must minimize your risk of dying from cancer," she says. "But everybody has their own way of doing it."

The Rebbeck study, and an editorial by Kaklamani and University of California San Francisco researcher Laura Esserman, MD, MBA, appear in the Sept. 1 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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