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Baylor College of Medicine News

Panel of BCM experts host free seminar on hereditary breast, ovarian cancer

Women with a family history of breast and ovarian cancer should make education about the disease and their risk for it a priority, said a breast oncologist and genetic counselor from the Lester and Sue Smith Breast Center at Baylor College of Medicine.

"Breast cancer genetic research is advancing rapidly," said Dr. Julie Nangia, an assistant professor in the Smith Breast Center. "Providing more education on breast and ovarian cancer prevention in high-risk women is a top priority in the breast cancer community."

Seminar at BCM

On Saturday, Feb. 9, Nangia and her colleague Sarah Zentack, a genetic counselor in the Smith Breast Center, will host a free educational seminar at BCM featuring a panel of local experts who will provide valuable information about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer management.

Renowned breast cancer expert Dr. Kent Osborne, director of the Smith Breast Center, will serve as the keynote speaker.

"Identifying high-risk women is key to early detection/prevention and saves lives," said Nangia. "Women who have a strong family history may be at a high risk to develop cancer."

Genetic mutations

Additionally, there are known genetic mutations that may significantly increase the risk for breast and ovarian cancer, said Zentack. "Testing is available to identify mutations for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes." Genetic experts such as Zentack help assess the need for testing. "We consider multiple factors when deciding which family members of breast cancer patients should be tested, including the type of cancer, age and how close the relation is," said Zentack.

Carriers of the BRCA mutation should be aggressively screened and consider preventative surgeries, Nangia said. They should also be offered preventative medications such as chemoprevention with tamoxifen or raloxifene, which can reduce breast cancer risk by 50 percent.

Important behaviors

Lifestyle changes such as reducing alcohol intake and maintaining a healthy weight and exercise schedule are also important behaviors to reduce risk for all women.

At the upcoming conference, Nangia and Zentack and their colleagues will present the latest information on hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, as well as answer questions from the audience.

The conference will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the BCM Cullen Auditorium, One Baylor Plaza, Houston, 77030. There is no cost to attend. Light breakfast and lunch will be provided. Please RSVP for the conference with Jennifer Fadner at 713-798-4590 or jh3@bcm.edu.

Parking is free at any Texas Medical Center parking garage. Parking locations and other information can be accessed at the TMC Parking web site. The closest garages to BCM are #6 and #7. When you enter the garage, you will be given a yellow token. Bring this token with you to the conference and your token will be validated.