APY248 ResearchPaper

APY248 ResearchPaper - Sarah Jordan Professor C. R....

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Sarah Jordan Professor C. R. Duggleby APY248 April 12, 2011 Ethics of Minors and the Genetic Testing of the BRCA1/2 Gene Breast cancer is the most common cancer that affects women in the United States, accounting for almost 500,000 deaths worldwide in 2007. There is a high chance of passing on the genetic mutation that causes this disease to offspring and therefore, there is an ethical predicament surrounding BRCA1/2 genetic testing and whether minors should be allowed receive these tests. Many parents that want their children to be genetically tested for the BRCA1/2 gene mutations are hoping, that if tested positive, there is a way to prevent the disease from developing or progressing further. Through the lack of knowledge and understanding of the consequences, genetic testing of minors for breast and ovarian cancer may cause more issues rather than provide a cure. Most doctors and testing companies are against genetic testing of adolescents until they reach the proper age. Breast and ovarian cancer are caused by a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Both are tumor suppressor genes that are found in breast cells and other tissue. If healthy, both help repair or destroy damaged DNA cells, depending on the severity of the damage. When mutated, the genes are unable to repair damaged DNA properly and therefore, increase the risk for cancers. There is an 85% risk of women developing breast or ovarian cancer with the BRCA1/2 mutations. In comparison, men who carry the BRCA1 mutation have no risk of developing cancer, while those carrying the BRCA2 gene have a high risk. It is estimated that over 240,000 people have had genetic testing, mainly for BRCA1/2, since 2007 (#2).If a individual’s results are positive, it is highly recommended for that person to take preventative
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measures through surveillance techniques such as enhanced screening (mammography, breast MRI). It is recommended for all women who have the BRCA1/2 mutation to get tested for breast and ovarian cancer by twenty-five years old through means of surveillance or chemoprevention. If the risk of cancer is present or is currently developing around forty years old, women should be medically treated with surgery (bilateral mastectomy, oophorectomy) (#1). The BRCA1/2 mutations can be passed on from parent to offspring, increasing the child’s risk of developing breast cancer from one or both of the parents. If the mother or father is a carrier of the gene mutations, the children have a 50% chance of having the same gene mutations [#1-45]. If a parent was tested, there is a 50% chance they would share their results with at least one or more of their children. This usually occurs if familial cancer is discussed at home occasionally or frequently. It was assumed that if the parents tell their children the results, it
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APY248 ResearchPaper - Sarah Jordan Professor C. R....

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