When we hear the word “cancer,” our minds will automatically jump to the worst possible outcome. Overwhelming emotions of fear, denial, anger, and worry arise first, before thinking of ways to fight back and beat the disease. We all have cancer cells, but now we don’t have to wonder about our 50/50 chance of developing it due to a process called cancer genomic (CGX) testing. Before receiving a diagnosis, or if a loved one confesses that they have breast cancer, testing is a remarkable way to predict your predisposition or manage tumors after they appear.

Cancer as a whole is full of feelings you might not be familiar with, and many sleepless nights as well. Regardless of the context in which you face cancer, it’s necessary to have support and encouragement along the way. If you were asked, “Do you know someone who has endured breast cancer?” Could you raise your hand? There are currently more than 3.3 million survivors in the United States. That involves women and men who are still undergoing therapy and those who have finished treatment. Genetic mutations in the DNA are what compose breast cancer. Cancer genomic (CGX) testing uses a saliva sample to predict your risk, and make room for more success stories.

About five to 10 percent of breast cancers are associated with gene mutations that we inherit from our mother and father. However, about 85% occur in women who have no family history. Cancer genomic (CGX) testing is a resourceful weapon in the fight against cancer because understanding your genetics can help you make more informed treatment decisions. It can also provide insight into how particular predispositions may play a role within your family. Genomic tests are also used to help decide whether more postoperative treatments would be beneficial.

What is Cancer Genomic (CGX) Testing?

For many years, the standard for cancer treatment consisted of surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation, and one-size-fits-all drug therapy. But cancer is complicated, and it affects every individual differently. Cancer is more than one disease. It’s a family of several that all result in uncontrollable cell growth. We all have unique genes, and some of us require stronger doses of medicine than others. While genomics and genetics sound similar, they both deliver different information. Genetics assess your risk for developing hereditary and non-hereditary cancers based on your genetic profile. Genomics studies the activity and interaction of certain genes in the body, including their role in cancer types. 

Breast Cancer Statistics – Men and Women

How many women do you know who have been affected by breast cancer? Probably more than you care to admit. Sadly, about 12% of women will develop an invasive form throughout their lifetime. From a visual perspective, that is one in eight. In 2019, approximately 268,600 new cases anticipate being diagnosed in women across the U.S., along with 62,930 non-invasive instances. Cancer develops in the tissues of breasts, and because we are all born with this, breast cancer affects men too. 

Although cases are usually rare, men carry a higher mortality rate than women do. Primarily due to less awareness among males, they are less likely to assume a lump on their chest means cancer, which can cause a delay in seeking treatment. According to statistics, about 2,670 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in men in 2019. Detecting a genetic mutation through cancer genomic (CGX) testing helps both men and women find it early when it’s most treatable. 

More Vital Statistics to Keep in Mind

  • For men – the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with breast cancer is about 1 in 833.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • A woman’s breast cancer risk nearly doubles if she has a first-degree relative (mother, sister, daughter) who receives a diagnosis. 

The most significant factors for developing breast cancer are gender and age. Cancer genomic (CGX) screening allows you to be as informed as possible so that you can think ahead, and get all the facts before asking questions and engaging in prevention. 

Genetic Mutations that Link to Breast Cancer

You’ve probably heard of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations that cause breast cancer. While everyone has them, you can inherit mutations in one or both that increase your risk of developing the disease. Having a mutation in both or one of these genes doesn’t mean you have cancer, only that your risk is higher than most. However, some people without gene mutations still develop breast cancer. When women are carriers of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, their risk of ovarian cancer also increases. Men who carry BRCA1, BRCA2, and other inherited gene mutations have an increased risk of developing prostate cancer in addition to breast cancer. 

Who Should Get Screened for Breast Cancer?

Most breast cancer cases aren’t genetic, but if a personal or family history of breast cancer has you worried, you may consider testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations. When either of these genes become altered, the protein product that produces tumor suppressors is not created or does not function correctly – increasing your cancer risk. Hereditary cancer screening provides vital information to help those with a strong history of cancer understand their predisposition for developing the disease.

About five to 10 percent of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary and caused by abnormal genes passed from parent to child. However, it’s important to understand that only some people with a gene mutation will develop cancer. For example, a woman may have a 45% to 65% risk for breast cancer — but she may never develop the disease. Meanwhile, a woman with a 25% chance may develop breast cancer. Inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase the risk of female breast and ovarian cancers — but are also becoming associated with further types, such as ovarian, colorectal and prostate.

CGX testing is allowing researchers and physicians to understand more about cancer as a whole, and as well as other diseases. Targeting tumors has become easier because we can now study abnormalities that can be matched to personalized medications and therapies. If you learn that you have a family member with these linked mutations, do not panic. Cancer genomic (CGX) screening can help prevent or detect cancer early when you or your family member has a higher chance of successful treatment and management. 

Genetic Counseling and CGX Screening for Breast Cancer

Cancer genomic (CGX) testing is a personal decision that only you can make. If you’ve ever felt cheated by the consequences of cancer, testing is a significant preventative tool that can save your life and the lives of your family members. If you decide to test and need time to process a positive result, genetic counselors can offer you the ultimate support and level of knowledge throughout your journey. He or she can discuss inheritance patterns in your family history, help you with decision-making, and offer emotional guidance during what can be a challenging and confusing time.

Some individuals carry a genetic predisposition to the development of specific types of cancer because they may be present in their family. Genomic testing for hereditary cancer can provide valuable medical information for patients and blood relatives, including siblings, aunts, uncles, nieces, and nephews. It’s critical to remember that just because your result is positive, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you have the disease. It solely means that you are more prone to developing a particular cancer type than others who don’t have the mutation. Genetic counseling is most appropriate if the disease presents itself throughout several generations in your family tree.

To conclude, cancer is in all of us. It remains silent in some families but runs deep in most. Knowledge is power, and what we do to lower our exposure will speak volumes when it comes to prevention and treatment. Cancer genomic (CGX) testing is a powerful way to learn how particular predispositions may play a role within your family. It helps create more successful outcomes and increases the rates of survival. Imagine being able to stop cancer before it begins. Thanks to advances in cancer genomics, testing is your first step toward prevention.