Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer

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Penn Highlands DuBois is offering a type of genetic testing for breast cancer, that’s hard to come by in clearfield county and less invasive than other tests.

“Cancer runs in my family,” Suzanne Shumaker, patient at Penn Highlands General Surgery, said.

Suzanne Shumaker from Punxsutawney took a saliva sample for genetic testing,

“My daughters wanted me to get it done, which I thought it was a good idea since I had breast cancer in my family and heard about it,” Shumaker, said. “I thought I’d come over and give it a try. Knowledge is good.”

Physician Assistant Melissa Hilliard, says cells are collected to see if there’s a genetic mutation, which would make the patient more prone to develop cancer.

She says it’s identifying people that are at a higher risk than the average population, to determine the best way to screen those patients and to detect cancer at a earlier stage when it’s more easily treatable.

“Genetic testing does not detect breast cancer itself, it identifies people who are at higher-than average risk and helps us to determine the best ways to screen them,” Hilliard, said. “So, the best screenings for breast cancer really include mammograms and clinical breast exams by a clinician.”

The type of genetic mutation found determines how a patient is screened.

Shumaker says she appreciates it’s offered right here in Clearfield county.

“Like everything else you have to run to Pittsburgh maybe to get it down or wherever,” Shumaker, said. “It’s nice to have it on this area, come in, get it done in Dubois, so it’s really nice to have that option.”

Shumaker says this type of genetic testing isn’t just for women, because breast cancer can occur in men.
The screening can also detect whether a man has another kind of cancer, like pancreatic cancer.

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