Valley woman shares how genetic testing played a role in breast cancer diagnosis


POSTED: Friday, May 16, 2014 - 4:45pm

UPDATED: Monday, May 19, 2014 - 10:14am

When any type of cancer runs in the family, it's likely the case that a hereditary link is the culprit.

For Susie Oliveira, there is a history of breast cancer in her family.

In 2013, Oliveira decided to take action after hearing about Angelina Jolie's own experience with breast cancer.

"That's when I said, 'Okay, I really do need to get tested' because my mother and grandmother each had breast cancer," Oliveira explained.

Like Jolie, Oliveira asked her doctor about genetic testing for the BRCA gene, which substantially increases the risk of cancer if there is a mutation.

"When she was tested for the BRCA gene, she indeed carried a mutation," said Dr. Billy Marek with Texas Oncology.

"Sure enough, they found a tumor," Oliveira said.

Oliveira was diagnosed with stage one breast cancer in June 2013.

Since discovering the gene mutation, she has urged her brother, sister, and daughter to get the same test to check if they also carry the BRCA-1 gene.

All three tested positive.

"These are the kinds of things people don't realize," said Dr. Marek.  "[They say] 'I don't wanna know for myself,' but there still may be information there that would be important to other family members."

According to Texas Oncology, more than 30,000 people across Texas carry they BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene mutations but do not realize their increased risk of cancer from carrying the gene.

Oliveira shares her story with the hope that it will encourage others to be proactive in learning if they, too, carry the BRCA gene, especially if breast cancer runs in their family.

"I just want to let people know that there's hope," she said.  "There's so many different options that you can look at, and I don't want people to be afraid.  You should be more afraid of not getting tested if you have that family history."

Right now, Oliveira is more than halfway through chemotherapy treatments and is looking forward to completing them.

Dr. Marek strongly suggests that anyone with a parent, sibling, aunt, or close relative that has been diagnosed with breast cancer look into their options for receiving the BRCA genetic testing.



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