Medical Edge: Sisters with Breast Cancer

Created: 10/31/2013 5:46 PM
By: Kenny King

(ABC 6 NEWS) -- She was positive for BRCA1, a gene that greatly increases the risk of breast, ovarian and other cancers.

"It was really important with the family history that we have that we get the test done."

Like their mom, sisters Tovah Carson and Sky Holt both tested positive for the gene. But they chose very different ways of dealing with that information.

"My husband and I had long conversations and made the decision that if I tested positive that we were going to go full board with all of the surgeries."

Complete hysterectomy and double mastectomy with reconstruction. 

Prophylactic surgery followed by yearly check-ups was the right choice for Sky.

"I decided for now I'm going to do SURVEILLANCE."

Every six months Tovah has a mammogram and/or an MRI to screen for breast cancer. But because there are no good screening tools for ovarian cancer, she did have a complete hysterectomy.

Mayo Clinic Dr. Sandhya Pruthi says both surgery and surveillance are viable options.

"There's good evidence that women who have that intensive surveillance, close follow-up, if the cancer was detected, it would be caught very early and these women actually have similar survivals to those who have had prophylactic mastectomy. "

It's all a matter of personal preference. Some people with family histories that suggest there might be a gene may not be sure they should get tested. Sky and Tovah say for them, it was crucial to know.

"Then you can make informed decisions. You don't have to sit and wonder what if."

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