Did you know September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month? It’s also Prostate Cancer Awareness Month and Children’s Cancer Awareness Month. There are more, and I mean more in September.
Appropriately sandwiched in there before the arrival of the “BIG ONE,” Breast Cancer Awareness Month also known as Pinktober, is National Hereditary Breast & Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week. Sometimes I think there are way too many of these awareness weeks and months, but then again…
The purpose of NHBOC week is to raise awareness about genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer and to help make people better aware of options available to them such as genetic testing for possible BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations, genetic counseling, prophylactic procedures and other possible preventative measures.
Some hereditary predispositions are still not understood. For example, a person may test negative for BRCA1 or 2, but there still might be a cancer cluster or a distinct pattern of hereditary cancer in their family. This may be due to other yet unknown genetic links or due to a variety of other reasons.
Hence, that leads to another purpose for NHBOC week, which is to call for more research and resources to be made available for families coping with an inherited predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer, whether they are BRCA linked or not.
This awareness is for men as well as well as for women, as men are not immune to developing breast cancer and may also be at higher risk for prostate cancer if they are found to be BRCA1 or BRCA2 positive or have a strong familial history of cancer.
The designation of National Previvor Day, this year September 28th, draws even more specific attention to individuals who carry a hereditary predisposition, but have not yet developed cancer. Perhaps during this week or on this day they will ponder steps they can take such as demanding earlier and more diligent screenings.
A good resource on this topic of hereditary cancer is the national non-profit organization called FORCE: Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered. It was founded in 1999 and is devoted to improving the lives of those affected by hereditary cancers.
If you suspect a possible genetic link exists in your family, take action by getting informed. Find out how to “arm” yourself. Speak with your doctor about your family’s cancer history. And this means discussing both side of your family tree. Breast and ovarian cancers are also passed down from the father’s side of the family. Sometimes even those in the medical profession too easily overlook the paternal side. Look for patterns. Think about testing when appropriate. Ask questions. Demand answers.
And lastly, make decisions that are right for you.
Have you discussed hereditary disease patterns in your family tree with your physician?
Have you had, or have you considered, genetic testing?
Do think there are too many “awareness weeks/months?”
Just a few sites with related info:
Three books I like about BRCA are:
Do you have resources you’d like to share?