HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress offers preventative gene testing for breast cancer

When Dalyss Tomayer found out three of her relatives had had breast cancer, it was enough to qualify her for the genetic testing which showed she had a high risk of breast cancer herself.

Tomayer was able to discover the gene early due to getting tested at HCA Houston Healthcare North Cypress’ High Risk Breast Clinic, where they offer genetic testing for those who qualify to see if they may have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene which puts people at higher risk for breast cancer.

“I had known for years that two of my dad’s sisters had breast cancer, and it was in speaking with one of my aunts that I then found out also one of my cousins had breast cancer,” Tomayer said. “So, it was at that time that I realize that I did qualified for the genetic testing and I decided to go ahead and do it.”

Janet Pollard, the coordinator for the High Risk Breast Clinic, said the breast center began as a full program under HCA Houston North Cypress’ CEO Jim Brown, who she said was passionate about having this resource.

“Most of the time people think about genetic testing after you get cancer,” Pollard said. “It can drive the type of surgeries, it can change treatment regime, but basically it’s getting it done prior. It’s screening people when they come in for their annual mammograms, talking with primary care doctors, educating them on what makes patients meet criteria.”

Criteria established by the American Cancer Society for genetic testing includes people who were diagnosed with breast cancer at a younger age, those diagnosed with breast cancer a second time, people of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, people with a family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer or prostate cancer, and people with a known family history of BRCA mutation.

Before the pandemic, Pollard said the center was testing around 30 people a month, men and women, with about 10 percent of people testing coming back positive.

“BRCA1 and 2 genes are huge red flags,” Pollard said. “They’re the original genes and they’ve been testing those genes for two decades.”

The process Tomayer chose to go through after being tested was to have a double mastectomy to virtually remove all chance of breast cancer, as well as a hysterectomy to eliminate her chances of ovarian cancer.

“Even though you do a double mastectomy, there’s no way to get 100 percent of every breast cell in my body, so there is still a slight chance, but it is incredibly slight,” she said.

Tomayer said she would continue to have ultrasounds for what remaining breast tissue she has left.

“I’m so very thankful they have the test,” Tomayer said. “It saved my life.”

[email protected]

Source Article