Thursday, March 31, 2011

Dr. Gordon tackles tough questions

This past Sunday was the LA screening of Joanna Rudnick's film In the Family at the Disney Studios in Burbank.  The screening was followed by a panel discussion with Joanna, Dr. Ora Gordon and Anya Prince, JD, a genetic discrimination expert with the Cancer Legal Resource Center.

This screening was attended by nearly 100 people, most of whom had not seen the movie before.  The film -- a moving documentary about a BRCA-positive woman who struggles with managing her risk while encountering a variety of women (and men) struggling with risk or cancer -- generated lots of questions for our very able panel.  The toughest questions went to Dr. Gordon, who handled them with her usual expertise, grace and occasional humor.  I have seen Dr. Gordon speak and field questions in the past and am continually awed by the breadth of her knowledge and her compassion in dealing with individuals facing difficult choices.

I want to share with you a few of the questions that came out of Sunday's post-screening discussion:

  • How does preimplantation genetic diagnosis -- genetic testing of an in vitro embryo -- affect the embryo or the child?
  • What is the average age of ovarian cancer diagnosis for BRCA1 carriers?
  • Is having annual mammograms since age 35 sufficient for surveillance if you have not been tested for a BRCA mutation?
  • Is there a way to find out if someone who died 25 years ago was a BRCA mutation carrier?
  • How can I get my older brother to test?
  • What percentage of ovarian cancer cases are the result of BRCA mutations?
  • Aside from surveillance such as MRIs, mammograms and CA-125, what can someone do to try to prevent cancer aside from surgery?
  • When do you recommend BART testing?
  • If my family has a BRCA2 mutation but I test negative, what's my cancer risk?
  • Do the chance of developing cancer increase or decrease with age both for BRCA-positive women and non-BRCA women?
  • Does pregnancy increase or decrease the risk of breast or ovarian cancer?
These questions are similar to the questions Dr. Gordon is asked virtually every time she speaks to a group and are among the questions she answers every day for her patients. These questions, and many others like them are part of the reason why we wrote Positive Results.  Positive Results answers all of these questions, and many, many more.  At one point in the evening Dr. Gordon said in response to a question "Read our book!"  And while that elicited laughter because of her tone, it is true.  Positive Results was written to be a comprehensive resource, it has an excellent index to make accessing the information in its pages easy and convenient.  Use it and not only will it will answer many of your questions, you will be much better prepared when you meet with your doctor.

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  1. Great post! If I hadn't already bought 2 copies of your book it'd make me want to rush out and buy it! :) I sure wish I'd made it there, I still haven't seen the movie, and haven't seen Dr. Gordon since my genetic counseling appointment.

  2. Hi Teri,

    We wish you had been there too but understand that it was just not geographically convenient for you. :)

    But the movie is available on Netflix and on Amazon if you want to get your hands on it.