If you have a strong family history of gynecological cancers, then you may have contacted a DNA testing company to inquire about their testing services. Whether you submit to testing at a traditional laboratory or by submitting a DNA sample through the mail, the results may be startling.
While your test may reveal that you have a genetic predisposition to breast, ovarian, endometrial, or uterine cancer, there are things you can to do lower your risk. Here are some risk-reducing strategies to consider if your DNA test reveals that you may be at risk for the aforementioned malignancies.
It is a well-known fact that taking an aspirin every day can lower your risk for heart attack and stroke because aspirin decreases the aggregation of platelets, reducing the risk for blood clots. Aspirin may also play an important role in reducing the risk for gynecological cancers, especially those of the breast and ovaries.
The protective action of aspirin in cancer prevention is not fully understood, but it may be related to the suppression of certain hormones such as estrogen. In addition to gynecological cancers, aspirin may also help reduce your risk for colon and stomach cancer.
Before beginning an aspirin regimen to reduce your risk for cancer, talk to your doctor. Aspirin can raise the risk for abnormal bleeding and may not be appropriate for those with bleeding disorders or for people who take prescription anticoagulant medications.
Another strategy to help reduce cancer risk is to undergo preventative, preemptive, or prophylactic surgery. This means that if you are at risk for breast or ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend that you have your ovaries removed, as this not only reduces your risk for ovarian cancer, but also for breast cancer.
The ovaries are your primary source of estrogen, and when estrogen is no longer being produced by the ovaries, the risk for breast cancer will decline. The reason for this is because the most common type of breast cancer is fueled by estrogen production.
Similar results can be obtained with estrogen-blocking medications, which are commonly prescribed to those who have already been diagnosed with breast cancer to prevent a recurrence. While ovary removal helps reduce risk, it causes women to go into immediate menopause. After surgery, women may experience severe hot flashes and night sweats because their estrogen supplies have been greatly depleted.
If your DNA test revealed that you are at high risk for cancer or other diseases, talk to your physician, who may refer you to a geneticist or DNA specialist. Just because you may be at high risk for a certain disease, does not mean that you are destined to get them. With frequent medical checkups and preventative measures such as starting aspirin therapy, having preventative surgery, submitting to nutritional intervention, managing your weight, not smoking, and limiting your intake of alcohol, you can dramatically lower your risk.