Monitoring Your Health Through Family Genetics

By WEEK Producer

March 25, 2011 Updated Mar 25, 2011 at 9:38 PM CDT

Mary Holm's sister, Debbie, lost her battle with breast cancer when she was just 30 years old. Two years earlier she was five months pregnant with her third child when she noticed a lump.

Because Debbie was so young, Mary's family did a little research and discovered some people on her dad's side of the family carried a breast cancer gene.

"So, we went ahead and got her tested, and she was BRCA1 positive. Then I was tested and I was the same."

There are two known breast cancer genes that can run on either side of your family. And they increase your risk of breast cancer by about 80 percent and the risk of ovarian cancer by about 40 percent.

Mayo Clinic's Dr. Stephanie Hines says if you have a family history of the disease, it's important to get tested so that you can better monitor your health through self-breast exams, mammography and MRI, or take medications like tamoxifen.

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