News for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Next Generation Genetic Testing For Breast Cancer


Before Angelina Jolie told the world about her decision to have a double mastectomy, you might not have heard of BRCA1 or BRCA2. These are two genes where mutations are known to increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. Jolie’s health risk was raised because of a mutation of the BRCA1 gene.  

Scientists say we need to look beyond BRCA – to other genes that also increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer. KERA’s Lauren Silverman talks with Linda Robinson, assistant director of the Cancer Genetics Program at UT Southwestern about the future of genetic testing for breast cancer. 

More and more women are inquiring about genetic testing for breast cancer. And for good reason: as many as five to ten percent of all cancers may be linked to an inherited risk. 

Should You Consider Genetic Testing? 

This checklist, courtesy of UT Southwestern Breast Cancer Surgeon and Genetics Specialist Dr. Euhus, can help you decide whether to consider genetic testing for breast cancer:

  • Breast cancer diagnosis before age 45
  • Three or more blood relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed with breast cancer
  • A family history of ovarian cancer
  • Being of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
  • Any male in the family who has had breast cancer
  • Female relatives who have had cancer in both breasts

Regardless of whether you chose to have genetic testing, there are ways to reduce your risk of developing breast cancer, or any cancer. The best way, Linda Robinson says, is exercise

"We know that at least a third of all cancers are related to our lifestyle and our diet. For breast cancer, the number one way to reduce breast cancer is going to be exercising. I always tell my patients just four hours a week. Just start small, but that's 30 minutes a day."

Lauren Silverman was the Health, Science & Technology reporter/blogger at KERA News. She was also the primary backup host for KERA’s Think and the statewide newsmagazine  Texas Standard. In 2016, Lauren was recognized as Texas Health Journalist of the Year by the Texas Medical Association. She was part of the Peabody Award-winning team that covered Ebola for NPR in 2014. She also hosted "Surviving Ebola," a special that won Best Long Documentary honors from the Public Radio News Directors Inc. (PRNDI). And she's won a number of regional awards, including an honorable mention for Edward R. Murrow award (for her project “The Broken Hip”), as well as the Texas Veterans Commission’s Excellence in Media Awards in the radio category.