at the University of Washington
No one would envy Megan Jensen her family history. Jensen’s father carries a BRCA1 gene mutation that significantly increases the risk for breast cancer, and her paternal grandmother and many other family members died of cancer. When Jensen found a lump in her breast last August, she was more than a little rattled. Thankfully, it wasn’t cancer. But after hearing about Jensen’s father, her doctor recommended she visit the University of Washington’s Genetic Medicine Clinic.
There, Jensen met Robin Bennett, the clinic’s senior genetic counselor and co-director, and Jensen took the test for the BRCA1 mutation. Unfortunately, Jensen, like her father, carries the mutated gene. “I knew I had a 50-50 chance of having the mutation since my dad was positive,” she says. But she’s not frightened. “By knowing I have it, I can be proactive and take the necessary precautions,” Jensen says.
Jensen is one of approximately 1,600 people who visit the Genetic Medicine Clinic each year for genetic testing, advice and reassurance. And with advances in genomic sciences at UW Medicine and other institutions, that number is likely to grow by leaps and bounds.
Before an appointment at the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in December, Megan Jensen shows genetic counselor Robin Bennett her new engagement ring. When Jensen found a lump in her breast last summer, Bennett provided invaluable advice about getting a genetic test. “We discussed the BRCA1 mutation, what it means if you have it, what preventative options are available, the likelihood of developing cancer with the mutation,” says Jensen. “I decided to have the test done in the first meeting.”