NEW YORK — Genetic test kits have become a popular holiday gift. While many are curious about their family background, some tests can also give a better idea of potential health problems.
Meet Sara Altschule. When she received a 23 & Me genetic test as a gift, she was eager to find out more about her health.
“I wanted to see if I had the Alzheimer’s gene because that runs in my family.”
Instead her test revealed she carried a BRCA gene mutation, greatly increasing her risk of breast cancer.
“It’s just a lot to process because one day you think you’re healthy and then you’re still healthy but you have this really high risk.”
A follow up with a genetic counselor confirmed her results.
“My cautionary note is, do you really want to know?”
Dr. Gail Vance from the College of American Pathologists said while these popular tests can be potentially life saving, consumers need ask some serious questions first.
“This might be information for yourself, but truly it’s information for your family as well. And maybe your family members don’t want to know about this.”
Dr. Vance also stressed following up with your doctor to interpret the results.
Altschule chose to have a preventative double mastectomy over the summer.
“Now my chances of developing breast cancer is under one percent.”
She’s sharing her journey on social media.
“I decided to talk about the good, the bad, the ugly through all this to help people understand what it means to have the mutation, to help other women.”