The decision to undergo testing is just the first step. Once you find out that you have the breast cancer gene or other risk factors, it's time to take action.
Some women choose medication and other treatment options, while others—like René—choose to have a mastectomy, which has stirred up controversy in the medical community.
Dr. Savard says that some doctors don't recommend the elective surgery, because it's a risky procedure and there's no guarantee that every breast cell is removed. Other medical professionals are worried that women will feel pressure to make this decision when a mere 2 to 3 percent should have to consider it.
Over the years, Dr. Savard says words like "radical" and "mutilation" have also been used to describe the surgery, creating a stigma. "Doctors have made women feel like it's a kind of mutilating surgery, but the bottom line is we have plastic surgery for all sorts of things and nobody questions that," she says. "How could you really question a woman's decision to save her life?"