Health News

Jul 31, 2012 6:28 PM by Lacey Steele

Your Healthy Family: Lynch Syndrome

For many people, their future health is literally written in their genes.

Here's more on important testing in Your Healthy Family.

Genetic testing helps unravel a family mystery for one woman, and it may even save the lives of her children.

Jill Chang always knew cancer might be in her cards.

It's a dominant branch in her family tree.

"My brother has had colon cancer at age 35 my mother's had four cancers: breast, endometrial, colon, and now lung," said Chang. "Her twin brother died of melanoma at age 40, and my mother's mother had four cancers: three colorectal and one breast."

So when it arrived, she wasn't surprised.

"At age 30 I had colon cancer," said Chang. "At age 40, endometrial cancer which is uterine cancer."

The random types confused her, until she saw a poster about something called Lynch Syndrome.

"I was like, oh my gosh this is my family," said Chang. "Eighty-two percent chance of colon cancer, 60 to 71 percent chance of endometrial cancer. I knew I needed to get tested genetically. I need more information about it. I needed counseling."

She had a blood test at the Center for Genetics and nurse case manager Julie Dattoma started putting the pieces of Jill's family together.

"Anyone who has a strong family history of cancer in their family should call a genetic counselor and talk to them," said Chang. "It's free to call them."

But testing can cost from hundreds to a couple thousand dollars.

Dattoma says insurance may cover some.

"Rather than waiting for that person to develop the cancer and then treating the cancer on the back end," said Dattoma.

Jill's instincts were right, and she tested positive for Lynch Syndrome.

Now that knowledge is more than power, it's a weapon to fight back and protect her children.

"I know what we're dealing with now, so I can go to the doctors and have certain procedures and tests and try to catch it early," said Chang. "At least I know this much. It's not a mystery."

It's illegal for your insurance company to drop you if you test positive.

The genetic information non discrimination act became law in 2008, and it also protects you from being fired or demoted from your job because of a genetic health risk.

 

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