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Austin Woman on Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk

Updated: Saturday, August 3 2013, 04:13 PM CDT

Actor Pierce Brosnan lost his daughter to ovarian cancer on June 28. Her mother and grandmother also died of the disease sending Brosnan on a mission for more research for genetic testing. An Austin woman has also become a supporter of genetic testing after she tested postitive for a gene mutation.

Seven years ago, Adrianna Alter realized she had more in common with her grandmother than blood, "When I was 19 I got the blood test that showed that I was positive." The women share a gene mutation.

"I told Adrianna I was so sorry that I was giving her a gene like that, but that I wish I could've given her something nicer," said her grandmother, Joanna.

Joanna didn't discover she carried the BRCA2 gene until 10 years after her battle with fallopian tube cancer. "As much as a fourth of all ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancers are because you have a familial predisposition," said her oncologist, Dr. Ellen Smith.

Dr. Smith suggested Joanna get the genetic screening, "The whole point is people with these defects about breast and ovarian cancer can't repair abnormalities in their DNA to correct it, so those abnormalities persist, pass on from cell to cell and eventually turn into cancer."

Adrianna said, "I mean it is a little bit scary knowing that you have a higher risk, " but she says she's glad she knows. "Once you know what you have then you can deal with it and until then you can't really do anything."

Every six months, Adrianna gets a blood test, papsmear, MRI and ultrasound to make sure she hasn't developed cancer. "We're at kind of a primitive state where the only way I can prevent Adrianna from not getting ovarian cancer is when she's completed her family, remove her ovaries," said Dr. Smith.

While the BRCA2 gene runs in the Alter family, so does positivity. "You can worry all day and all year and for the rest of your life and it may never happen, so I am just not into the worry thing," said Joanna.

Dr. Smith says testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 costs anywhere from $1100- $4,000. Adrianna says insurance paid for her screening.

--Deeda Payton, KEYE TV News.

Austin Woman on Genetic Testing for Cancer Risk

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