Genetics Counseling For Cancer And The Decision To Have Preventive Surgery

May 21, 2013

Cancer is cruel and it impacts the lives of far too many people and their families.  According to the World Health Organization, breast cancer kills 458,000 people each year.

Recently, actress and director Angelina Jolie, in a New York Times op-ed entitled My Medical Choice, announced she received a double mastectomy in order to minimize her risk of getting breast cancer.

Jolie has a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.  Her mom died from the disease at the age of 56.

While Jolie encourages women to make their own informed choices, her decision has spawned an emotional debate about the need of preventive surgery as well as the costs associated with the process.

Host Don Marsh talked with two local women who shared their stories about cancer, genetics and what is involved in making a very personal decision.

Joanne Kelly is an oncology nurse at Saint Louis University Hospital.  She underwent a preventive double mastectomy and hysterectomy because of her genetic risk of getting cancer.

Kelly’s genetics counselor was Suzanne Mahon, a genetics expert who directs the Saint Louis University Cancer Center’s Heredity Cancer Screening Program.

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