BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 11

Helping Families

Prevent Cancer
Identifying hereditary risk can be life-saving


re all cancers hereditary?
Researchers long
thought that heredity
contributed to only a small
portion of cancer diagnoses. But
recent advances in tumour sequencing
technology confirm that hereditary
cancers actually account for up to 10
per cent of all diagnoses. They span
not just a few, but most cancer types.
Most people are unaware of their
family history or susceptibility.
Thankfully, there are now ways
for patients to find out if they are at
risk with a simple genetic test. But
a two-year wait list has formed for
hereditary cancer screening in B.C.
An initiative is now underway to
expand the Hereditary Cancer Program
and ensure all patients can receive
potentially life-saving information
about their genetic risk in a reasonable
time frame.

Rose Lee, a patient at the BC Cancer
Vancouver Centre, had BRCA1 gene
mutation results come back too late
for her and for her family.
In 2005, Rose was diagnosed with
triple-negative breast cancer. She
underwent surgery, chemotherapy
and radiation, which sent her cancer
into remission.
"It was only after I finished
treatment that I joined a Chinese
cancer support group, where I
learned more about the BRCA1/2
gene, and a hereditary cancer test,"
she says.

An active yogi and mother of three,
Rose learned in 2011 that she had
developed ovarian cancer.
When that cancer appeared,
her oncologist, Dr. Anna Tinker,
recommended Rose have the gene
mutation test done, given her history
with breast cancer. Rose was positive
for the hereditary BRCA1 gene.
These results came as her daughter
had also just been diagnosed with
ovarian cancer, at the age of 42. She is
still undergoing treatment.
All three of Rose's children have
now had this important test. Her two
eldest children tested positive for the
BRCA1 gene, and will now have their
cancer risk monitored throughout
their lives. Her granddaughter will be
tested when she is 19 years old.
Today, Rose is five years cancerfree, and a strong voice urging British
Columbia to make genetic testing
available to everyone. The test may
have kept Rose and her daughter
from having to experience ovarian
cancer-which, if detected
early enough, is treatable.

Medical Geneticist Dr. Kasmintan
Schrader and Medical Oncologist
Dr. Sophie Sun, who lead the BC
Cancer Agency's Hereditary Cancer
Program (HCP), plan to pilot an
expanded screening program for
the most common inherited genetic
mutations: BRCA1, BRCA2 and Lynch
By identifying people who may
have a hereditary mutation, the HCP
team will dramatically increase their
chances for survival. With an archive
of tumour tissue going back over
20 years, HCP is positioned to help
hundreds of families.

To be a part of expanding
genetic screening to BC
families, contact Jan
New today at 604.877.6157
or jan.new@bccancer.bc.ca.




Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BC Cancer - Fall 2017

BC Cancer - Fall 2017
Opening Thoughts
Healthy Insights
Why I Give
Researcher Profi le
Dr. Marco Marra says “now is the time”
Testing to prevent cancer in families
Counselling program helps families affected by cancer to cope
Legacy Giving
Regional Roundup
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - BC Cancer - Fall 2017
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 2
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Contents
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Healthy Insights
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 5
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Why I Give
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Researcher Profi le
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Dr. Marco Marra says “now is the time”
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 9
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 10
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Testing to prevent cancer in families
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Counselling program helps families affected by cancer to cope
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 13
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Legacy Giving
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - Regional Roundup
BC Cancer - Fall 2017 - 16