The test?

My mum has recently been diagnosed with breast cancer and we have a history of it in the family… i am 17 and have been advised by my aunt to have a test done - she however lives in Australia and doesn’t know the procedures or anything.

so basically how do i go about getting a test complete, is there a certain criteria you need to meet and what happens if the results are positive??

Thank you for your help :slight_smile: xxx

Hi Cherryblossom

Here’s the link to the BCC publication ‘Breast cancer in families’ which may answer some of your queries whilst you await posts from your fellow users.*/changeTemplate/PublicationDisplay/publicationId/70/

Take care

There are indeed criteria, and they’re quite strict too. But really, in your case, they won’t apply-becuase you are too young to be tested. As a rule of thumb, most clinics won’t test before mid 20s-although if they are comfortable that the candidate is mature enough, and has adequate support, they will go ahead a year or so earlier. Our daughter was thus able to be tested at 23, for example. To be honest, I would be extremely doubtfu if you could find a clinic which would test one as young as yourself.

But-take comfort that your risk (even if you do eventually find you have a genetic misprint), may not be excessively high at the moment. It becomes a much greater risk from about 30-and is when the clinics start to minitor “at risk” patients, and start considering preventative measures.

I’m surprised-and a little worried-that your aunt has taken it upon herself to worry you in this way. Especially as she admits that she has no idea what the criteria for testing actually are!

hiya cherryB

sorry to hear about your mum and your family.

at 17 you wouldnt be old enough to be tested, breast cancer is an adult onset disease and you have to be an adult over 18 to be able to make the decision about testing.

however before you even get to this stage you may want to speak to your mum and your family to find out a bit more about the cancers in your family.

only 5% of all breast cancers are actually genetic so the majority (even those in families with lots cases) have no known genetic basis.

the process for genetic testing would really start with your mum. if she was wanting to find out wither your family would be eligible for testing she can ask for a referral to the genetic department and you could maybe ask her if you could go along too.

they will want to know the different types of cancers that affect her blood relatives and what age your family members developed the disease at. they dont just want to know about breast cancer but all cancers affecting the family.

they will speak about risk factors for mum and for other people in the family like yourself and how you can reduce your risk of cancers by being healthy.

if your family is found to have a high incidence of cancer and a pattern that may show a possible genetic cause for the cancer the genetic department may offer your mum genetic testing.

they will only offer testing to somebody affected by cancer (like your mum) rather than somebody who isnt affected as the unaffected person may not have any genetic mutations so they wont know what to look for but in a person with cancer they can check to see if the cancer was caused by a genetic change… this gene testing is a long process and can take from 4 months to around 12 months.

some people dont what to know they have a gene mutation though so its good for mum to think about how she might feel if she was found carry a mutation and what impact it could have on her own life and that of the family. some people feel disappointed that a test comes back with no gene found as they may feel the gene would have been a reason for them to have cancer.

if mum did get offered genetic testing and was found to have a gene mutation other family members could have a predictive test which looks for the exact change that was identified during her mutation search. this predictive testing is a lot quicker and takes about 4 to 6 weeks.

i am a gene carrier of the brca 2 gene and i have a 19 year old daughter and 15 year old son but i dont think my daughter should be worrying about getting tested yet… she isnt too bothered anyway as she is too busy with living her life and not worry about something that may happen in 20 years.

i was the youngest person in my family to get BC at the age of 37 and this means that my family can have screening from 34 (5 years younger than the youngest affected family member).

if mum is under 50 its very likely you will be offered screening too when you get to your 30s and 40s regardless of whether you get tested for a cancer gene or not.

what i would recommend (im also a genetic breast cancer nurse) is just to be breast aware. get to know your breasts and what is normal for you what they feel like and what they look like so that if there are any changes when you are older you will be able to spot them.

if your not sure what types of things to be checking for have a look here
i give this to most of my patients young or old and i think its really helpful for knowing what to look out for.

hope this puts your mind at rest a bit but if you need any more info feel free to ask.

best wishes to your mum too.

love Lulu xx

Thank you ever so much for your help :slight_smile: xxxx