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BRCA Genetic Testing

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39-year-old Sherice Torres found out she carried the BRCA gene mutation three years ago. "My mother is a three time cancer survivor and her first incident was in her early 30s so we knew I was at high risk at developing breast cancer myself."

The average woman has a 12% risk of developing breast cancer at some point in their lives.  Women who inherit the breast cancer gene mutation have a more than a 60% increased risk for the disease. Like Angelina Jolie, Torres chose to have a double mastectomy to lower her cancer risk. The mother of two also had her ovaries taken out. "I did this for myself. I did it for my family. I did it so my children would have a mother when they grew up."

Doctors recommend the BRCA gene test for people who have a strong personal or family history of breast cancer. The blood test can run in the thousands of dollars. Women who don't want surgery have the option of undergoing aggressive screening. But Lenox Hill's Dr. Stephanie Bernik says surgery gives patients the best chance to lower their cancer risk. "The decision for some women is extremely easier, other women the decision is very difficult."

Torres waited ten years before having the test done. "I didn't want to know and I think waiting as long as I did is the biggest mistake I made."

She doesn't want other at risk women to put it off like she did.

Written By Wendy Damonte
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