As the human genome continues to reveal its secrets, scientists continue to identify rare genetic mutations that may be responsible for an increased risk of breast and other cancers. In recognition of MemorialCare Orange Coast Medical Center’s 20th year delivering comprehensive breast care, we asked Maggie McDuffee, M.S., L.C.G.C., genetic counselor, to explain:

How does hereditary cancer differ from sporadic or familial cancer?

  • Sporadic cancer occurs by chance and is the most common form. It is caused by the accumulation of DNA mutations throughout the lifetime.

  • Familial cancer occurs when you see the same type of cancer running in a family. The accumulation of DNA mutations is somehow accelerated by shared environmental factors or toxins, as well as unknown genetic factors.

  • Hereditary cancer occurs when a person is born with a DNA mutation that is passed down through generations. This single mutation causes increased risk to develop certain cancer types.

 

What percentage of breast cancers are hereditary?

About five to 10 percent of breast cancers in women are caused by hereditary mutations, such as mutations in the BRCA genes.

 

Who should have genetic counseling and/or testing?

Anyone who’s concerned about hereditary cancer should consider genetic counseling. Some individuals or groups are at higher risk than others. I recommend counseling for anyone with a personal or family history of:

  • Ovarian cancer at any age

  • Breast cancer at age 50 or under

  • Triple-negative breast cancer at 60 or under

  • Two primary (new) breast cancers occurring at any age

  • Male breast cancer at any age

  • A BRCA mutation detected by tumor profiling on any tumor type

  • Knowledge of a genetic mutation in the family

 

What are the advantages of getting tested?

Knowledge is power. Knowing that you have a genetic mutation means you can run intervention: earlier screening, more frequent screening, or preventive surgeries.

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call the Cancer Risk and Prevention Program at 949.452.8850 or visit memorialcare.org/cancercare for more information.

 

Please note, if you’re happy with your current primary care doctors, specialists and coverage, your plan will simply renew with your approval. Below are two easy steps toward choosing what’s best for you.

Step 1: Choose a doctor who chooses MemorialCare and MemorialCare Medical Group or Greater Newport Physicians
Experience, reputation, access and your personal confidence are all key points to consider when choosing a physician. According to Patient Assessment Surveys (PAS) from the California Healthcare Performance Information System, Inc., MemorialCare is ranked in the 96th percentile for patient satisfaction.

Step 2: Evaluate new plan options and consider:

  • Keeping your current doctor

  • Access to pharmacy and hospital of your choice

  • Out-of-pocket expenses, co-payments and deductibles

  • Anticipated major medical expenses for next year

  • New medications

For more information about our services, call 1.888.848.9355.

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MemorialCare is a nonprofit integrated healthcare delivery system that includes leading hospitals – Long Beach Medical Center, Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach, Orange Coast Medical Center and Saddleback Medical Center; award-winning medical groups – MemorialCare Medical Group and Greater Newport Physicians; MemorialCare Health Plan; and convenient outpatient health centers, imaging centers, surgical centers and dialysis centers throughout Orange and Los Angeles Counties.

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