The latest in genome technology could make waiting to get a mammogram in your forties obsolete. According to a new study in the journal of Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers and Prevention, if the cost can be kept down, women can start breast cancer prevention as young as at birth.
This genome sequencing, in which billions of DNA molecules are checked to see if the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 cancer causing gene is carried, has cost tens of thousands of dollars in the past. Now, the price has dropped to five thousand dollars.
The US government hopes to lower the program cost to under a thousand dollars, making it possible for women to know early on whether or not they will be susceptible to the disease.
According to the most recent estimates, 55 to 65 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and around 45 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
Women who know they are at risk because breast cancer is in their genes can take immediate preventative measures through lifestyle changes like a healthy diet, staying away from cigarettes and cutting back on their alcohol intake. Others, like actress Angelina Jolie, who find they are extremely high risk, can take more drastic measures and opt for preventative mastectomies.
Scientists are hopeful that this genetic testing will be the affordable preventative care of the future. Armed with knowledge and good choices, many women will be able to avoid this disease.