Patricia's Story

No one is ever really prepared for the news that they have cancer, even when it's something they have heard before. 

But when Patricia Moore received her second diagnosis of breast cancer in April, something was different than the first time. She had changed, and so had the tools available to fight the disease.

“The first time I had cancer, I was a total wreck,” said Moore. “The second time, I was more matter-of-fact.  I’ve trusted God through all of it.  My family has been by my side, and the support and love I’ve received from both friends and coworkers has been fantastic.”

Moore’s most recent experience began when a routine mammogram led to a biopsy and positive diagnosis, and an eventual meeting with her breast surgeon, Dr. Linda Barney.

Dr. Barney suggested that Moore undergo genetic testing to detect any potential mutations.

“Patricia’s earlier cancer, combined with a strong family history of the disease, raised the question of a possible genetic link to cancer in her family,” said Dr. Barney. “Though genetic testing has been out for several years, the technology has evolved to be able to detect a number of other genetic mutations.”

Tests revealed that Moore indeed had the BRCA gene.  BRCA mutations are associated with the highest risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer in a patient’s lifetime, though there are many other gene mutations that increase a person’s risk of developing the disease.

The news not only had a profound impact upon Moore’s course of treatment – she opted for a double mastectomy – it equipped her with valuable information for herself and her family.

“News of a mutation helps patients advise their family members that they should seek the advice of a genetic counselor since the gene can get passed down,” said Moore’s oncologist, Dr. Basel Yanes.

He said ovary and breast removal can reduce the risk of cancer by up to 90 percent in those people who are BRCA-positive.

News such as this has been vital for Moore’s own family members as they consider their options.  Medical professionals have learned that every patient’s case is unique as the field of genetic testing has expanded.

“There are several factors that go into how we help patients navigate their path,” said Julie Sawyer, genetic counselor with Miami Valley Hospital South’s High Risk Breast Cancer Center.  “Not everyone chooses testing.  Not everyone chooses to have surgery.  We want to provide a range of options that allows them to make the best approach to their care.”

Encouraging Others

Ultimately, the greater goal is to empower people to lead healthier lives and to proactively care for themselves in the best way possible.

“We don’t want to create a false sense of security that you won’t get breast cancer if you don’t have a mutation,” Dr. Barney said.  “In fact, 90 percent of women who get breast cancer don’t have a gene mutation connected to a risk for the disease.  Women should routinely receive routine wellness care, see their physician, and have breast exams and regular mammograms even before considering genetic counseling.”

Today, Moore is in good health and is on a mission to encourage others around her.

“I tell everyone – whether they are friends, family or coworkers – to be sure to get their mammograms,” Moore said.

Linda Barney, MD

Linda Barney, MD

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Basel Yanes, MD

Basel Yanes, MD

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