Is It Possible To Have A Dna Test While Pregnant – Last summer, I thought it might be fun to analyze my DNA. Two companies, 23andMe and Ancestry.com, appeared again and again in my social feed, so I decided to join the party and see if I could blame my genetics for my preference for salty foods. And as a journalist, he is naturally curious.
So, like 26 million others, I ordered a test kit online, spit into a tube, and sent the spit to Silicon Valley. Any concerns I have about privacy. I ticked all the boxes to keep my results as secret as possible and returned to my normal life.
Is It Possible To Have A Dna Test While Pregnant
I had just come home from the gym when I opened an email from 23andMe, saying the report was ready to read. That click changed my life forever: to my complete shock, the results showed that I had a mutation in a gene called BRCA1, which put me at risk of breast and ovarian cancer. I cried.
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At first, he did not believe what he saw. My father’s sister died of breast cancer when she was 37, but my mother (my grandmother) and her sister lived long and healthy lives. My aunt’s death was always said to be an unimaginable tragedy, not a family legacy. I know being Ashkenazi Jewish (100%, according to 23andMe) puts me at high risk for BRCA, but 1 in 40 is still only 2.5% of my ethnicity.
I immediately turned to Google. I learned that 72% of women with a BRCA1 mutation develop breast cancer and 44% end up with ovarian cancer. Some people get both. In the rest of the population, a woman’s lifetime chance of breast cancer is 12% and the chance of ovarian cancer is 1.3%. A BRCA1 mutation is a deeply frightening diagnosis.
After 20 minutes of Googling, I felt like I couldn’t breathe anymore. My husband wisely suggested that I get away from the computer and call my gynecologist. I’m sure he’ll say something comforting about how bad it is, but I won’t get cancer myself. Instead, he referred me to a breast doctor at Cedars-Sinai in Los Angeles.
I am not the first person to receive shocking and terrible news from a home genetic testing company. With the growing popularity of 23andMe and other similar companies, I won’t be the last.
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23andMe began offering BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation screening in March 2018, three months before I took the test. I chose the health analysis section of the report because I thought if I was tested, I would get as much information as possible. And in my mind I think it will prove that I am not vulnerable to some of the serious diseases on the health list. Not only was I wrong, but I got the news in the worst possible way: online.
There will be countless other women, like me, who will find out about their breast cancer risk through online reports instead of sitting down with a genetic counselor, which is how people find out when they get genetic testing through education. of health care professionals 23andMe replaces one-on-one conversations with a digital tutorial that all users must go through before they can see the results of any reports the company deems sensitive (such as BRCA or Parkinson’s disease tests).
“We recognize that people will have different responses to the information presented,” said Altovise Ewing, who works at 23andMe as a medical science liaison. “We always encourage customers to have the results confirmed in the clinic where they can talk to the doctor.”
At Cedars-Sinai, my doctor said I shouldn’t make any decisions based on the 23andMe test. Although the company says its reports are 99% accurate, most doctors want confirmation from a second source. He then referred me to a genetic counselor who had me re-tested through a hospital-approved laboratory. I was comforted for a while and hoped that the new results would prove 23andMe wrong. But a few weeks later, I got a call from my genetic counselor. She confirmed the mutation.
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I’m sorry. But what I felt was completely different from what I felt after opening the 23andMe report. Talking to someone about the results versus reading them in an online report, even after going through a long tutorial, is the difference between night and day. My counselor is understanding and knowledgeable. After he told me the results, he asked me what I wanted. at that time. Need more information? Time to be alone or cry?
Since I have read so much, I want him to confirm that I am at high risk of cancer, I am lucky to have found this before I got sick, and what I decide to do next, it will be. . She made me feel that even though I had a hard road ahead of me You, I will get through this.
Here’s what I learned over the course of two months as I explored my options: Because there is still no good test for ovarian cancer, doctors strongly recommend that women with BRCA mutations have their ovaries removed. When it comes to breasts, there are two main options: surveillance or high-risk surgery. High-risk surveillance means getting a mammogram and breast MRI every year, six months apart. The doctor warned about the symptoms of the tumor which, in my opinion, means the future of constant concern with many biopsies, inevitably, the diagnosis of cancer.
Another option is surgery, which can feel terrible. It meant removing my breasts, a process that Angelina Jolie chose and she would later describe as an almost magical experience, describing some of the more gruesome details as “a scene from a sci-fi movie”. But I had to face the cold reality: a life of worry, or under the knife.
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I think a lot about my decision, but at the end of the day, I know what’s best for me. I have health care, I have access to the best doctors in the world, I just had a baby, and at 47, I am still young enough to recover from surgery. I’m a worrier by nature and the thought of living one more day than I have to with what feels like death on the shoulder is terrifying. After I received confirmation of my mutation, I told my doctor that I wanted the necessary surgery as soon as possible, choosing a mastectomy with implant augmentation.
I’d be lying if I said the process wasn’t terrifying. I went into pre-op for my ovarian surgery at the end of September last year. To better prepare for the surgery, I started seeing a therapist and spent several weeks practicing self-hypnosis. The surgery went well, and it was a month before I was back at work, with the help of carefully administered opioids. During that time, my family, colleagues, and friends came together to support me and make sure I had a place to rest and heal. Seven months later, I went into what I hoped would be the last surgery: reconstruction.
At every step of this journey, I realized a self-evident reality: all of this would be infinitely more difficult if I had to do it while fighting cancer.
23andMe says its mission is to empower consumers with information, and I know Feel powerful. If I hadn’t been tested at home, I probably wouldn’t have been able to see a doctor and genetic counselor and get my genetics tested. And instead of being able to take preventive measures, she may end up doing the same thing but with the added complications of chemotherapy. In this regard, I am forever grateful that home genetic testing is affordable and available to people like me.
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But with the proliferation of DNA testing, it can seem like we’re playing a serious medical diagnosis like a parlor game, and that’s scary. As scary as it is to get the news that you have a mutation, getting a clean bill from 23andMe can be even worse. While the company is clear that it only tests three variants of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, it notes that there are more than 1,000 variants in these genes that can increase a person’s risk of cancer. In other words, the 23andMe report that shows you
“That’s where I see a potential downside,” said John E. Lee, program director of the genetic counseling clinic at Cedars-Sinai. “For the three variants they tested, they were very accurate, but they didn’t look at the rest of the genes” that could lead to breast or ovarian cancer.
Lee said to find a
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