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updated: 10/17/2013 4:37 PM

Science prevents passing breast cancer gene down family line

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  • Dr. Brian Kaplan of Fertility Centers of Illinois has helped patients prevent passing genetic disease down the family bloodline.

    Dr. Brian Kaplan of Fertility Centers of Illinois has helped patients prevent passing genetic disease down the family bloodline.

Gina Kremer

For some families with the BRCA1 gene mutation, the lifetime risk of breast cancer can be as high as 80 percent, with the average risk of breast cancer resulting from a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation ranging from 45 to 65 percent. Through advances in modern science, couples are now able to prevent passing these genes down the family tree by genetically screening embryos.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is a cutting-edge fertility treatment technology that screens embryos for genetic disease. Genetic screening can detect the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as several other genetic mutations linked to breast cancer such as p53, PTEN/ MMAC1, CHEK2 and ATM. For those predisposed to cancer or other genetic abnormalities, this option allows selection of the healthiest embryos during in-vitro fertilization treatment.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women, and many women are now taking genetic tests in a preventative measure to know their cancer risk. In the past, the genetic tests were unaffordable, but women can now undergo basic genetic testing for the same cost as a nice dinner for two. Genetic testing can reveal a family gene that has gone undiagnosed for years, allowing women to be extra diligent in screening and prevention.

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer can preserve their fertility with egg vitrification or egg freezing. After completing cancer treatment, a woman who has frozen her eggs can use them to create embryos and carry a baby. Those with hormone sensitive breast cancer diagnoses can choose to have a surrogate carry the baby to assist in preventing a recurrent cancer diagnosis.

"The capabilities of modern science allow the children of tomorrow to avoid the genetic risks their parents face today," says Dr. Brian Kaplan of Fertility Centers of Illinois. "Knowledge is power, and being aware of cancer risk can save lives."

Fertility Centers of Illinois has helped thousands of couples grow healthy families for more than 30 years. FCI's nationally and internationally renowned physicians utilize the most advanced technology available to provide cutting-edge fertility treatment.

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