LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Women hear throughout their adult life about the importance of getting their annual mammogram and performing their self exams. But what if you were empowered with insider information that could make a difference in the future of your health and possibly your life?
Your body holds a secret. It's a secret that tells you if you're at possible risk for a life threatening disease.
Laurie Loyd is a breast health navigator at Baptist Health breast center. A few years ago at a conference, she learned about the role genetics plays in breast and ovarian cancer. She also learned about a simple blood test that can provide some very important information. The test is called a BRCA test.
Laurie says, "The BRCA genes, we all have those, those are genes that are supposed to suppress tumors of the breast and ovaries, but if there's a break in one, they can actually enhance that growth of breast and ovarian cancer."
In fact, research says having the mutation increases a woman's risk of developing breast cancer five-fold. It also increases the risk of ovarian cancer from about 1.4 percent to fifteen to forty percent.
Laurie knows about cancer. Her mother-in-law had breast cancer. Her sister had ovarian cancer. Laurie says, "So we got my mother-in- law tested and she was positive for the BRCA gene and of her five children, three of them were positive, so we got everyone tested and my daughter through my husband is positive for the BRCA two gene."
Laurie's daughter Melanie had never heard of the BRCA gene when she was tested. She says, "It didn't really surprise me that it was positive. " Now 26, Melanie says that information is key to controling her own health. She started having mammograms at the age of 24.
Melanie says anyone with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer should be tested. "Knowledge is power and being able to control a little bit of this is better than being blindsided."