"Women who carry the mutated gene through heredity have a 50 percent
chance of passing that same mutation to their own child. These
mutations tremendously increase a woman's chance of getting breast
and ovarian cancer," Mrs. Blagojevich said. "As a woman, I want to
make sure other women are educated about all of their treatment
options. And as a mother, it is important to me that we protect our
daughters from hereditary forms of breast and ovarian cancer by
identifying it as early as possible."
Most hereditary forms of
breast and ovarian cancers are caused by mutations that occur in
BCRA1 and BCRA2 genes. Not all mutations will increase a woman's
risk of getting breast or ovarian cancer. But for those mutations
that do, the risk of being diagnosed with either breast or ovarian
cancer before the age of 70 can be up to 70 percent.
"Women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer should
talk with their doctor about getting genetic counseling and testing.
Finding out if they carry the BRCA gene can make some patients
anxious, but the results can give women what they need to know to
make decisions that can potentially save their lives," said Dr.
Funmi Olopade, professor of medicine and human genetics at the
University of Chicago Medical Center.
"The reality is that this is a wonderful option for people. This
is an option that wasn't an option for people who didn't have
private insurance. For women who do not have a lot of resources,
this will save lives; there is no doubt about it," Nancy Amicangelo,
executive director of Breast Cancer Network of Strength.
[to top of second column]
Women enrolled in Illinois Medicaid who have been diagnosed with
breast or ovarian cancer and have a significant family history of
these cancers, or women who have not yet developed cancer but have a
significant family history, will be eligible to receive genetic
counseling. A genetic counselor will determine through various
criteria, including computer modeling, if the patient should receive
a genetic test for hereditary BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. The outcome
of these tests will often guide the choices women make in treatment.
"Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed type of cancer in
women over the age of 20, and when breast cancer is diagnosed early,
the survival rate increases dramatically," said Barry S. Maram,
director of the Department of Healthcare and Family Services.
"Illinois is making great strides in the treatment of breast or
cervical cancer by providing this test."
According to the National Cancer Institute, more than 192,000
women in the U.S. are diagnosed with breast cancer, and
approximately 5 percent to 10 percent of those patients have a
hereditary form of the disease. Breast cancer will claim the lives
of approximately1,700 women in Illinois this year.
Gov. Rod R. Blagojevich expanded the Illinois Breast and Cervical
Cancer Program so that all uninsured women in Illinois have access
to lifesaving breast and cervical cancer screenings and treatments.
As a result, approximately 78,000 women in Illinois have received
[Text from file received from the
governor's office; LDN staff]