Cancer Genetics Q&A

VIDEO | 25:00

Doctors from Memorial Sloan Kettering answer a variety of questions about future directions in patient care for people with hereditary forms of breast and other cancers.

Breast surgeon Alexandra Heerdt says that there are no clear-cut recommendations about preventive surgery for women who have a family history of breast and ovarian cancer but do not have a BRCA mutation. In most cases, women with a family history of these cancers can be treated without having their ovaries removed.

According to cancer genetics expert Kenneth Offit, breakthroughs in reproductive technology have helped to prevent ovarian cancer in many women who have had children after surgery. In addition, new technology allows doctors to identify BRCA mutations in embryos that have been stored for future use, allowing women to avoid passing on the mutation.

Doctors now have an armamentarium of estrogen-blocking drugs to prevent breast cancer from returning in women who initially survive the disease.