“It was a no-brainer,” says Sharon Osbourne about her recent decision to undergo a double mastectomy. Osbourne recently revealed that she chose a preventative mastectomy after learning she possessed a gene that increases the risk of developing breast cancer. On The Marc Media’s Marc Silverstein, spoke with George Washington Medical Faculty Associates Medical Oncologist Dr. Lisa McGrail to discuss Osbourne’s decision and what women need to know when facing this kind of decision.
Most breast cancers are not hereditary. In fact, about five to 10 percent of patients with breast cancer develop it from genetic mutations. In Osbourne’s case, she has a mutated gene (BRCA1 or BCRA2) that is supposed to function as a tumor suppressor. But when the gene is mutated, the cells are more likely to succeed in forming tumors, increasing the risk of breast cancer to as high as 85 percent and increasing the risk of ovarian cancer up to 40 percent. Dr. McGrail says that because of the high risk, she encourages patients with this gene mutation to strongly consider getting a mastectomy. Doing so can significantly decrease the chances of developing breast cancer to one to two percent.
For patients who do not want to undergo a mastectomy, there are other options, but they would require the patient to adhere to a very strict regime, says Dr. McGrail. This includes committing to regular mammograms, self-breast exams, clinical breast exams, and MRIs.
Due to advances in early detection, a simple blood test can reveal whether a patient has the mutated gene. Dr. McGrail says that the following should also prompt someone to get screened immediately:
· Breast cancer diagnosed at a young age
· Multiple family members with breast or ovarian cancer
· Men with breast cancer
· Anyone who has had breast cancer in both breasts (Contralateral breast cancer)