United World College of South East Asia,
Teacher: Ms. Pippa Haley
In the general population, up to 12% of women will develop breast cancer in their lifetimes (National Cancer Institute, 2015). In contrast, those with mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes stand a 40-85% chance of developing breast cancer (Smith et al., 2013). Hence, many people - predominantly women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or other risk factors – opt to take the BRCA test to identify a mutation in either gene....
...Positive test results indicate the presence of a known genetic mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 with a high degree of certainty. Negative results, on the other hand, while indicating the absence of any known mutation in either of the BRCA genes, may fail to identify undiscovered mutations, some of which still may increase the likelihood of developing breast cancer (Steligo, n.d.). The test may also yield an ‘ambiguous’ result or ‘variant of uncertain significance’, which detects identified variations in genetic sequence for which the risk of cancer development is unknown (Richter et al., 2013).
Whether genetic testing should be conducted at adolescence continues to be a point of contention. Proponents argue that a positive result for a mutation might enable individuals to take measures to reduce the likelihood of developing the disease, like reducing carcinogen intake...
...Adolescents may lack the maturity to deal with positive test results, leading to psychological consequences such as anxiety, stress or loneliness. (Webster et al., 2013). Additionally, because adolescents are not considered capable of informed consent, it is often the parents who decide whether their child undergoes genetic testing, despite the fact that the decision may have lifelong implications and, arguably, should be left to the child.