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Misconceptions About BRCA Testing

From the Show: Health Radio
Summary: What is a BRCA gene mutation, and how does it impact ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment?
Air Date: 9/17/15
Duration: 10
Host: Melanie Cole, MS
Guest Bio: Richard T. Penson, MD and Cindy McKinnon, Advocate
Dr. Richard Penson is Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Penson came from St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, in 1997 and his practice is devoted almost exclusively to gynecologic oncology with the majority of patients having ovarian cancer.

Dr. Penson sits on the national Gynecologic Oncology Group (GOG) committees for quality of life research, and the NCCN Ovarian Committee. Dr. Penson attends on the Bigelow General Medical Service at Mass General, serves as the chairman for panels C, and E of the Institutional Review Board of Dana- Farber/Partners CancerCare, and is a faculty member teaching on Patient Doctor I, for first year Harvard Medical students.


Cindy McKinnon is an Ovarian Cancer Survivor and a pre-breast cancer survivor. I live just outside of Boston in Peabody, Massachusetts.  I've been working with FORCE as a Volunteer by fundraising and attending/helping at the FORCE Conferences. 


Misconceptions About BRCA Testing
One of the most recent debates within the medical world affects women who have the BRCA gene and who are presented with the decision of whether or not they should get a mastectomy.

While genetic testing has been a successful method of assessing families that may be at risk with a history of cancer, there are many common misperceptions about the BRCA gene, its role in determining risk of developing cancer, and the importance of BRCA testing at the time of diagnosis.

There are many factors to consider: everything from cost, to who should be tested, to when... but, the truth is that BRCA testing is just as important upon diagnosis as it is before, and it can help doctors and patients decide on the best course of treatment.

What's the first thing you should do if you've found out that you have the BRCA gene?

Richard T. Penson, MD, and survivor and advocate, Cindy McKinnon, join Melanie Cole, MS, to share the misconceptions of BRCA testing.
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