Genetic testing helping 'previvors' learn of higher cancer risk

Wednesday, August 29, 2018
Genetic testing helping 'previvors' learn of higher cancer risk
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Genetic testing is helping identify "previvors" who are at higher risk for cancer.

Instead of hearing 'you have cancer' some people could be hearing 'you may get cancer.'

They are called "previvors" - meaning their chances of getting breast or ovarian cancer are higher than most people.

Somaya Ishaq is in that group. Recently, she couldn't put her finger on it, but something just wasn't right. To get down to the bottom of it she decided to undergo genetic testing.

"I wanted to see why I wasn't feeling 100 percent and I had a gut feeling."

Tests revealed she had a harmful BRCA-2 gene mutation. Her doctor said that meant a higher risk of breast and ovarian cancer. Ishaq's mother is an ovarian cancer survivor.

A wife and mother of two, Ishaq is a previvor. She's predisposed to cancer, but hasn't yet had the disease.

"I shed a lot of tears by myself, with my husband, just thinking about it," she said.

In consultation with her doctors, Ishaq decided the appropriate course of action because of her cancer risk was to have her ovaries removed.

She also worked on a holistic approach with a multidisciplinary team of experts. Eating healthier, going to the gym, doing yoga and meditation are all part of her life now.

The next step she's considering: a double mastectomy.

"Whenever I'm physically and mentally ready, then I'm ready to do the next step."

For now, she runs full speed ahead cheered on by a family that supports her decisions - no matter how difficult they are.