• Should you have genetic testing to assess your breast cancer risk?

    For some women, breast cancer is the result of a specific genetic mutation. Most of the cases of breast cancer that are linked to a genetic mutation are caused by the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. Because of this, many women wonder if they should have genetic testing performed to determine if they have the mutations. Knowing that the mutations are present can help women take a more informed approach to preventive care. However, genetic testing is not right for all women—and in some cases, it can cause more problems than it solves. Here are some of the things to consider when you’re making your decision about genetic testing.

    Do you have a family history of breast cancer?
    Generally, genetic testing is not recommended for people who do not have a family history of breast cancer. It should be considered only if you have a family history of breast cancer, including family members who developed the disease at a young age and cases of breast cancer in men in the family.

    These cases should have occurred in close family members—parents, siblings, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, nieces, nephews, and first cousins. Breast cancer in more distant relatives is not usually considered to be a good indicator of the need for genetic testing.

    Do you have a family history of other kinds of cancer?
    As discussed in the video, there are some other forms of cancer that are also linked to gene mutations. These include:

    • Ovarian cancer
    • Pancreatic cancer
    • Metastatic or aggressive prostate cancer

    If close family members have experienced these diseases, talk to your physician about whether genetic testing could be right for you.

    Are you prepared for all of the potential outcomes?
    Having a gene mutation associated with breast cancer does not guarantee that you will get the disease, but it does put you in a position of having to make a decision about what steps to take next. Some people find the knowledge that they have a gene mutation more stressful than helpful.

    Talk to your women’s services specialist at Regional Medical Center of San Jose to find out if genetic testing could be helpful for you. We offer comprehensive women’s health services and cancer care, using a variety of advanced screening and diagnostic tools. To learn more, call us at (888) 762-8881.

  • Exploring the Unique Nutritional Needs of Cancer Patients

    When you’re undergoing cancer treatment, meeting your nutritional needs will help you feel better and keep your side effects in check so you have the strength to fight your disease. The nutrition you need changes when you undergo cancer treatment. When you’re at the hospital receiving care, ask for advice about what foods are good for you. Here are some of the things you should keep in mind about nutrition while you’re fighting cancer.

    Food Safety Matters

    If you’re receiving chemotherapy for cancer, your immune system may be compromised by your treatment. It is more important than ever to pay attention to food safety to avoid germs. Be sure to wash your hands before eating or cooking and wash all fruits and veggies before eating. Avoid cross-contamination by keeping raw meats away from cooked foods and make sure foods are cooked thoroughly before eating. Choose pasteurized milk and juice and avoid raw honey. While dining out, skip salad bars and sushi.

    Your Appetite May Change

    Surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy can all affect your appetite. If you’re suffering from nausea and vomiting, getting the right nutrition can be challenging. However, it’s important to still eat as well as you can to support your recovery. Try eating smaller meals or snacks when you’re not feeling well, and avoid fried, greasy foods that are hard to digest. On days that you feel better, make an effort to eat a normal diet. If the side effects of treatment are consistently making it difficult to eat, consult your doctor for advice.

    Fat and Alcohol Consumption May Be Risky

    There are studies that indicate that saturated fat and alcohol could be linked to the development of certain kinds of cancer. Consuming them may also impact the risk of cancer coming back in the future. Talk to your doctor about your particular case and whether these items are safe for you during cancer care.

    At Regional Medical Center of San Jose, our oncology teams are dedicated to supporting you during and after your cancer care. You can learn more about our San Jose hospital’s cancer care program and request a referral to a specialist by calling our hospital at (408) 259-4000.