Should I get tested?

I am 35 years old. My mother -67- is currently terminally ill with stage 4 breast cancer. This is her 4th breast cancer diagnosis (the first was when she was 39) and her 5th cancer diagnosis in total (having also had a lymphoma). She has had a double mastectomy and chemotherapy. Her sister-50s- is currently being treated for breast cancer. Her brother died 10 years ago with lung cancer and her father died in his 40s with stomach cancer. (Mother died v young so can not determine whether she would have had breast cancer). 

My apologies for the long family history but my mum and her sister have recently found out they carry the gene. Should I get tested? This is not something my mum wanted. My worries are about what my options would be if I were positive and whether this would add additional anxiety as I am not sure preventative surgery is something I would want. On the other hand, I feel that the anxiety would resist regardless and this would give me a clearer picture of what I should do in the future. 

  • Hi , at the end of the day it's going to have to be you that decides based on what you think would cause you the elast stress.  If I was you I would prefer to know and not knowing would stress me out anyway as you have said is doing to you.  I just feel it would be such a shame to live with that stress unnecessarily because you don't carry the gene.  And if you find you do then maybe it will mean you are more vigilant and will pick up a cancer earlier.  It might also mean you get monitored by your doctors more closely perhaps.

    What I would bear in mind though is that breast cancer treatment has come a long way over the years and it's very treatable now with high success rates.  Have a read of people's bios by clicking on their names and you will find lots of success stories.

    Hope you reach a decision you are happy with whatever that turns out to be.

    Macmillan Support Line - 0808 808 00 00, 7 days a week between 8am-8pm

  • I guess it's different for everyone.  As I understand it,  if you test positive you don't automatically have to have preventative surgery, I'm pretty sure there will be other options; perhaps the best thing to do would be to find out more information and what options are available (apart from an immediate double mastectomy) with your doctors before you do or don't decide to consent to having the test. 

    I decided to have the BRCA test.  I approached it in the same way as my routine mammograms (it seemed the right thing to do for me); on this occasion I discussed having the test with my four children (they're all in their 20s).  It has implications for the boys (prostate / pancreatic cancers) as well as the girls and they will be able to decide whether or not to do the test themselves if I test positive.  They all thought it was a good idea for me to get tested and they wanted their anxiety to be put to rest (or to be forewarned) about their own chances.  And if I do test positive and they get tests themselves, apparently so long as they don't have any symptoms they will have no problems with life / health insurance.   They all wanted me to do the test and I'm waiting for the results. 

    So I guess for them they'll have either peace-of-mind or some warning and can make sure they get regular routine check-ups / mammograms on the NHS much more easily.  I can't see my daughters choosing to have mastectomies at this stage in their lives!