1. Breast Genome Study

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    Before there was an initiative to map the human brain, a similar study analyzed all the genes in human DNA. Now, the human genome project is delivering payoffs in how we understand various forms of cancer. “Including breast cancer but also colon, lung, among others; to look especially at the genome level. What about these particular cancers are manifested in the genes they express? Which is in essence their personality,” says Dr. Scott Dunbar, oncologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff. Breaking down how cells function and malfunction allows doctors to deliver what’s called ‘personal care’ Based on a cancer’s specific profile, they are beginning to customize treatment. “From this research study there were about a thousand particular breast cancer sample databases. What’s been evolving over time is that breast cancer doesn’t represent just one disease. There are other faces of it. Some of which behave better and worse than others. And that the different ways that they are treated can sometimes be dramatically different,” says Dr. Dunbar. This data is also being used to screen women based on their genetic risk of getting breast cancer. “A small percentage of breast cancer approximately 5%, have been linked to what are now fairly well publicized gene mutations in families called BRCA1 and BRCA2. For which there are specific blood tests that can be done for generating screening,” says Dr. Dunbar. This small group has an extremely high risk of breast and ovarian cancer. That knowledge gives them opportunity to be proactive and possibly circumvent disease. It’s hoped that putting financial resources into the brain- will unlock mysteries of the mind. View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/ Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit leememorial.org

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    • Prophylactic Mastectomy

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      from Lee Memorial Health System / Added

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      When Leslie Anderson learned she had the BRCA gene, she knew it meant she had an extremely high risk of developing breast cancer. Anderson weighed her options- and took an aggressive step. “I made an appoint with a physician and discussed the option of doing a prophylactic mastectomy. To totally wipe out that risk,” says Leslie Anderson. “A prophylactic mastectomy basically is a mastectomy performed for an individual that does not have a cancer,” says Dr. Lea Blackwell, surgical breast oncologist on Lee Memorial Health System’s medical staff. An increasing number of women who never had a cancer diagnosis are getting breasts removed based on genetic risk. Experts believe it’s reasonable for those who are BRCA positive. But the trend is expanding. “When someone has a breast cancer and they have elected to do a mastectomy a lot of times they’ll ask ‘what about the other breast?’ When you remove that other breast we call that a contralateral prophylactic mastectomy. Removing the opposite side of the breast to prevent a breast cancer in the future,” says Dr. Blackwell. A few decades ago women were inclined to hold on to their breasts unless it was absolutely necessary. Nowadays there is much less resistance to mastectomy. Driving forces are anxiety over the risk of breast cancer and improvements in reconstruction. “I feel like it’s a personal decision. They don’t have to have that done, but if they want it done then that can be done for them,” says Dr. Blackwell. Researchers found the rise in double mastectomy doesn’t match people’s expectation of reoccurrence. “A lot of people predicted 50 percent 70 percent, pretty high prediction. And actually the real number is probably about 20 to 30 percent,” says Dr. Blackwell. Anderson is among the minority, who understood her risk had both breasts removed with both eyes open. “There was never a doubt in my mind from the very beginning, I knew that was going to be my choice,” says Anderson. View More Health Matters video segments at leememorial.org/healthmatters/ Lee Memorial Health System in Fort Myers, FL is the largest network of medical care facilities in Southwest Florida and is highly respected for its expertise, innovation and quality of care. For nearly a century, we’ve been providing our community with everything from primary care treatment to highly specialized care services and robotic assisted surgeries. Visit leememorial.org

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