This month is all about overcoming breast cancer, and at Baptist Hospital, there's now a test that can tell you if you're likely to contract the disease.
The BRCA gene is commonly known as the breast cancer gene. Laurie Loyd with the Baptist Breast Center explains, "Those are genes that we all have. Their job is actually to suppress tumors in the breast and ovaries but if there's a little break in one, then it actually enhances growth."
If the gene mutates, breast cancer, and even ovarian cancer is more likely to develop. Whether a woman's BRCA gene mutuates is greatly tied to heredity.
Deena Smith-Jones knew her family history. Her mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27, and died at 34. She was diagnosed at 35. And when she was genetically tested, before having children, she found out she has the strongest mutation of the breast cancer gene.
"With losing my mom at a young age 5, and her sister being diagnosed with breast cancer, I've been taking mammograms since i was 27-years-old so I knew that would be the best choice in order to save my life," Smith-Jones says.
Now cancer-free, Smith-Jones recommends women, first get mammograms, and if they qualify, get the genetic testing.
"It give you a sense of peace, to know that you made the right choice in order to do what you need to do to save your life," she says.
Baptist uses a risk assessment that includes a computer calculation of a woman's lifetime risk of breast cancer. Then the genetic testing is available. The Breast Center recommends that women at the age of 40 begin yearly mammograms. And earlier if they have a family history.