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Four More Breast Cancer Genes, and Nary a Genetic Counselor in Sight

Posted Aug 26 2008 4:26pm
In a season two episode designed to coincide with a pink ribbon, breast cancer awareness campaign, Grey's Anatomy depicted a woman seeking a prophylactic oopherectomy and double mastectomy in reaction to the news she tested positive for BRCA-1 mutation after her mother died from ovarian cancer. Of course, being Grey's Anatomy, the storyline was played for maximum drama - but that doesn't mean we should simply roll our eyes and assume it creative writing at its best. Women do pursue prophylactic double mastectomies after testing positive for BRCA mutations, even though science is still out on the potential medical benefits.

With the news that four more genetic mutations have been linked to breast cancer , we are going to have to seriously consider what it means to have a genetic mutation, to look beyond the lab at the actual impact the geneticization of medicine is having on how patients are both viewed and treated, and consider what appropriate treatment actually means.
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