Featured, Opinion

Outrun breast cancer with genetic screening

We all deserve the opportunity to gaze through the window to our future. Recent Lasker award winner, Dr. Mary-Claire King, applied this idea through her proposal on Sept. 8 to give an equal opportunity for all women to be genetically screened for breast cancer through population-based screening.

Currently, the norm in policy set by the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force is to refer genetic screening only to women with a family history or previous history of cancer. Population-based screening for breast cancer would allow genetic screening for BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations to be part of a routine medical checkup rather than depending on specific doctor referrals.

Over the summer, a family friend of mine was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 50s. She had no genetic history of the disease, so she was never advised to have genetic screening for breast cancer.

The harsh reality is that breast cancer doesn’t choose its victims based on family history alone. According to Dr. King’s recent study, about 50 percent of women who have developed breast or ovarian cancer did not have any family history of these diseases.

If my family friend had undergone the screening, she could have impeded the onslaught of cancer and maybe could have had a blast at this year’s Fourth of July fireworks. A woman should not have to wait until after cancer hits to learn about the existence of preventive measures.

Yet there is opposition to Dr. King’s proposal, stemming in part from the fact that there isn’t enough evidence that women with this mutated gene will definitely develop cancer. Experts fear that women with the BRCA1/BRCA2 mutated gene may undergo unnecessary surgeries in order to prevent breast cancer. However, it seems unlikely that women will undergo life-altering surgeries without being properly informed about other methods of prevention.

Critics also say that knowing of a mutated BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene can shed negative light on a woman’s life, but in the long run it is beneficial to not be ignorant. This way, women can adopt simple methods of lowering the risk of developing breast cancer, such as breast-feeding and limiting alcohol intake.

It’s true that genetic testing can be expensive, but the cost is outweighed by the value of being in control of one’s life. My experience with my close friend made me realize that life is too precious to cross your fingers and hope that a deadly disease won’t waltz into your life. We cannot skimp on preventive measures.

The future of women does not have to be tied to the strings of cancer. Genetic screening is more than just a window to the future; it’s a form of empowerment.

Nisha Sharma is a freshman majoring in neuroscience.

 

Featured image courtesy of Stuart Caie, Flickr.

 

October 3, 2014

Reporters

Nisha Sharma


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

Miami coach Jim Larranaga and his staff spent recent practices pushing his players to whip the ball ...

The University of Miami confirmed in a written release Sunday that starting cornerback Malek Young s ...

In 2016, the Miami Hurricanes had tight end David Njoku, who went in the first round of the 2017 NFL ...

Four days had passed since his University of Miami basketball team squandered a 13-point second half ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ search for offensive line help is set to continue on the weekend of Jan. 26, w ...

Presidents at three higher education institutions in Miami "lend our unified voices” to the cal ...

Thirty high school English teachers from Brazil are spending six weeks at UM in a new skill-building ...

Global and local efforts needed to respond to biological threats, UM President Julio Frenk warned at ...

As artificial Intelligence takes hold, tech visionary David Kenny stresses keeping human values in t ...

UM’s First Black Graduates Project committee visits an iconic D.C. museum for inspiration to create ...

Bruce Brown Jr. scored 19 points leading Miami to victory over NC State in Raleigh. ...

The University of Miami women's basketball team picked up its third straight win in eight days ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-2) closed out its opening weekend with a 5-2 loss ...

With the help of dominating victories and dramatic comebacks, No. 19 Miami finished the day with an ...

The University of Miami men's tennis team (1-1) returns to action on Sunday, as it travels to N ...

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.