A breast cancer gene test is a blood test that shows whether a woman has breast cancer gene mutations, known as BRCA 1 or 2, which increases a woman's chance of having breast cancer. Dr. Oz and Dr. Michael Roizen talk with a mother and daugher about their experiences with breast cancer and the breast cancer gene test. Breast cancer survivor Regina Brett talks about her battle with the disease. Her daughter, Gabrielle, talks about the steps she took once she discovered she, like her mother, carried the BRCA1 gene.
Regina was diagnosed with breast cancer at 41 and underwent a double mastectomy as part of her treatment. Because of her mother's bout with breast cancer as well as a long family history of the disease, Gabrielle says she decided to take a breast cancer gene test—and discovered that she, too, carried the BRCA1 gene. The BRCA genes are genes that ordinarily help prevent breast and ovarian cancers. Testing positive for a BRCA gene mutation means there is a slight change in a woman's BRCA gene that inhibits it from carrying out its job of prevention.
A woman's chances of developing breast cancer are significantly greater in the presence of a gene mutation, but that does not mean she will definitely develop the disease. With this information in mind, and after much deliberation, Gabrielle says she decided to undergo a double mastectomy as a preventative measure. "Making that decision was traumatizing, but once it was made and the surgery was scheduled, I've had no regrets," she says.
In a four-part series entitled "Inheritance" published Cleveland's The Plain Dealer, Regina chronicles her and her daughter's journeys, from taking the test to weighing their options to Gabrielle's decision to have surgery and the subsequent recovery process. Regina says she feels confident Gabrielle made the right decision to have both her breasts removed, which essentially guarantees she will not get breast cancer later in life. "I'm totally relieved that she had this surgery," Regina says. "My biggest fear [was] that I gave her this gene that could kill her."