The IWD (International Women’s Day) is just around the corner. Now, I don’t believe that just one day should be allotted to gender, all days should belong to all living being (men, women, children, animals) equally (going the monk way). But well we can all do with some intervention. Do you know this year’s theme is Balance for Better? And that is apt, balance is the key for living that aspired near perfect life. And how does one strike for balance – Knowledge? When you know something, you can act on it, spread awareness, take it further, so knowledge is where it begins. And this year we are helping you progress on your health quotient by adding BRCA Gene knowledge to your health pool. And dear men this one is for you too, for we don’t leave anyone behind.
BRCA (Breast Cancer) is a gene present in both the male and female body. In a nutshell, this gene is responsible for repairing damaged or broken DNA, which in effect helps fight tumors. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the two known genes belonging to the tumor suppression gene category. Now when this gene suffers changes that are known as gene mutation. As you can imagine when the tumor suppressor gene is not working properly it can no longer do its job effectively of repairing DNA or suppressing tumors. Which makes way for increased risk of attaining breast cancer, or relapse (wherein a patient has previously defeated cancer but it surfaces again).
This came to spotlight when Angelina Jolie went for double mastectomy (removal of the breast) as a precautionary measure against breast cancer. Yes, it was this test’s results which led her to this decision of epic proportions. But testing positive on BRCA gene testing doesn’t only just shows an increased risk of getting breast cancer, but ovarian cancer by 15% than the general population in women. Of course, women have more chances of breast cancer but men who test positive for BRCA mutation test are also exposed to the risk of breast cancer. It also indicates a higher risk of prostate, pancreatic, colon cancer in these people than the general population.
So does that mean everyone should go for this test? The answer is No. Even though since its beginning the prices of this test have come down after the monopoly (Myriad Genetics) ended it is still on the higher end, roughly 50k INR. Only the people with a history of cancer before the age of 50 in the family or personal history should consider this test. Or if there were any known relatives with this mutation. Remember you get your genes from both parents, so both sides (paternal and maternal) are to be considered. The test itself is simple enough a blood test.
The best route is to consult a genetic counselor and discuss in depth about all if’s and buts and what your plan of action will be should you test comes positive. The main merit of this test is, it can give you a worst-case scenario and tell you how to turn it into a best-case scenario.
“Gaining knowledge is the first step to wisdom. Sharing it is the first step to humanity.”