NCCN Guidelines for Patients
Breast Cancer – Metastatic (STAGE IV), Version 2.2017
If you may have hereditary breast cancer, your doctor
will refer you for genetic counseling. Most breast
cancers are not hereditary. A genetic counselor is an
expert in gene mutations that are related to disease.
The counselor can tell you more about your chances
of having hereditary breast cancer. He or she may
suggest that you undergo genetic testing. Genetic
testing assesses for gene mutations that increase the
chances of getting breast cancer.
Hereditary breast cancer is most often caused by
mutations in the
genes help to prevent tumor growth by fixing
damaged cells and helping cells grow normally.
Genetic testing can tell if you have a BRCA or
another mutation. Your test results may be used to
guide treatment planning.
Some mutations, called VUS (
ignificance), are not fully understood by doctors.
Your doctors may know of research that aims to learn
more. If interested, ask your doctors about taking
part in such research.
A medical history is a report of all health events
in your lifetime. It will include questions about
your family’s health to help assess if you have
hereditary breast cancer.
Your doctor will examine your body for signs of
disease. He or she will touch parts of your body,
including your breasts, to see if anything feels
Blood tests may be done to look for signs of
cancer outside of your breast.
Imaging tests make pictures of the insides of
your body. Your doctor will be able see inside
your body without cutting into it.
During a biopsy, tissue or fluid samples are
removed for testing. Samples are needed to
confirm the presence of cancer and to perform
cancer cell tests.
Some breast cancers consist of cells with too
many hormone receptors, HER2s, or both.
These features are used to plan treatment.
Genetic counseling may help you decide
whether to be tested for hereditary breast
Waiting for results is often the
hardest part of this journey. I am
an overachiever when it comes
to thinking about worse case
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