BRACAnalysis helps women with increased cancer risk avoid cancer

Stock photo
Stock photo

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Stacy Chesser visits her gynecologist, Dr. Thomas Ray, on a regular basis.   Chesser is the middle daughter in her family. Her sister, Kimberly Vernetti, made a disturbing discovery that dealt with family health history.

"Kimberly had a knot on her breast, came into Dr. Ray. Two days later she got the results back that she had cancer," said Chesser.

That diagnosis shook the family to the core because breast cancer runs in the family. Vernetti's oncologist recommended a BRAC test for her, her sisters and mother.

Dr. Ray explained what BRACAnalysis is.

"The BRACAnalysis is a test that screens for the BRCA one and two gene. Essentially detects hereditary breast and ovarian cancers," said Ray.

He is very specific about what the test does and doesn't do.

"It does not indicate that there is current cancer. But it does indicate that they may be susceptible at a higher risk than the general population over their lifetime," added Ray.

So who should take it?

"This test would be ideal for anyone who has a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer," he said.

Chesser was the first to schedule the test and got the results two weeks later.

"He explained to me that I came back positive for both breast and ovarian gene and with that he gave me an 87 percent chance of getting breast cancer by the time I was 50," she said.

Once the test results come back and if they are positive, the patient has a lot to think about. A very aggressive form of treatment could be surgery. Conservative treatments may involved medications.

"I was through having my children and so I went ahead and proceeded in three weeks with a complete hysterectomy. During this time, I've already been refereed over to a physician in Huntsville to where I could talk to him about whether I wanted to proceed with a double mastectomy," said Chesser.

Chesser's older sister tested negative, but their mom tested positive and also had both surgeries.

She said the BRAC test is a blessing.

"Mastectomy is a scary word. It scares everyone. But it's just body parts. You're still yourself. In hindsight, I've come out better," she said.

And now she's spreading the word so more women can try to avoid these types of cancer.

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