By: Avner Hershlag, MD- Director of the PGD Program
On the occasion of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we would like to wish all of our patients who have survived breast cancer, and those who are currently battling breast cancer, a smooth recovery and a long, healthy life. We’d also like to illuminate some very exciting breakthroughs to help future generations live without the worry of genetic breast cancer.
Genetic breast cancer is transferred through the abnormal BRCA gene, which is responsible for 5-10% of all breast cancer cases under the age of 50. Through a process known as PGD, or Preimplantation Genetic Diagnosis, we are now able to identify the abnormal BRCA gene in your embryos and transfer to patients only embryos that do not possess the gene. Our specially trained embryologists will remove a cell (or cells) from each viable embryo (embryo biopsy). The genetics lab will determine which embryos do not have the abnormal BRCA gene and only healthy embryos will be transferred into the uterus.
Women who carry the abnormal gene are at an increased risk of breast cancer. Breast surgeons recommend that women with the abnormal BRCA gene should have a prophylactic double mastectomy. IVF with PGD offers an alternative for your daughters and even sons. Instead of having to go through the painful decision and process of having a double mastectomy and breast reconstruction, PGD will allow you to rid your child of the BRCA gene before birth.
More about the BRCA Gene:
• The BRCA gene is especially common in Ashkenazi Jews (2.5%)
• BRCA-1 is associated with lifetime risk:
- 1st Breast Cancer, 50-85%
- 2nd Breast Cancer, 40-60%
- Risk of ovarian cancer ranges from 20-45%
- BRCA-2 gene associated with similar risk
• It should be noted that male breast cancer occurs in more than 6% of cases
• We recommend that those with the BRCA gene mutation come in for a consultation to discuss having In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF) with PGD.
To determine whether you should consider genetic testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations please click on the following link and scroll down to Q&A #6 http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA
A fascinating development in reproductive technology, PGD now provides an important tool to combat genetic misfortune. PGD may give you a peace of mind, knowing that you can provide your children with a future for that is free of genetic breast cancer and that you can spare them from the struggles you had to face.