Science Prevents Passing Breast Cancer Gene Down Family Line

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In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Fertility Centers of Illinois discusses genetic screening for breast cancer and fertility preservation during a breast cancer diagnosis.

Dr. Brian Kaplan

The capabilities of modern science allow the children of tomorrow to avoid the genetic risks their parents face today. Knowledge is power, and being aware of cancer risk can save lives.

For some families with the BRCA1 gene mutation, the lifetime risk of breast cancer can be as high as 80 percent, with the average risk of breast cancer resulting from a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation ranging from 45 to 65 percent. Through advances in modern science, couples are now able to prevent passing these genes down the family tree by genetically screening embryos.

Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is a cutting-edge fertility treatment technology that screens embryos for genetic disease. Genetic screening can detect the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, as well as several other genetic mutations linked to breast cancer such as p53, PTEN/ MMAC1, CHEK2 and ATM. For those predisposed to cancer or other genetic abnormalities, this option allows selection of the healthiest embryos during in-vitro fertilization treatment.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death among women, and many women are now taking genetic tests in a preventative measure to know their cancer risk. In the past, the genetic tests were unaffordable, but women can now undergo basic genetic testing for the same cost as a nice dinner for two. Genetic testing can reveal a family gene that has gone undiagnosed for years, allowing women to be extra diligent in screening and prevention.

Women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer can preserve their fertility with egg vitrification or egg freezing. After completing cancer treatment, a woman who has frozen her eggs can use them to create embryos and carry a baby. Those with hormone sensitive breast cancer diagnoses can choose to have a surrogate carry the baby to assist in preventing a recurrent cancer diagnosis.

“The capabilities of modern science allow the children of tomorrow to avoid the genetic risks their parents face today,” says Dr. Brian Kaplan of Fertility Centers of Illinois. “Knowledge is power, and being aware of cancer risk can save lives.”

Fertility Centers of Illinois has helped thousands of couples grow healthy families for more than 30 years. FCI’s nationally and internationally renowned physicians utilize the most advanced technology available to provide cutting-edge fertility treatment.

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Fertility Centers of Illinois, S.C., is one of the nation's leading fertility treatment practices, providing advanced reproductive endocrinology services in the Chicago area for more than 30 years. FCI physicians, embryologists and support staff are stringently chosen based on educational background, medical skills and their ability to collaborate. With a team of 10 nationally and internationally recognized reproductive physicians who treat thousands of patients each year, the practice has earned a reputation for overcoming hard-to-solve fertility issues. FCI is dedicated to medical and clinical excellence and continues to invest in the latest technologies and research. FCI offers a comprehensive range of fertility treatment options including intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor egg, gestational carrier, and preimplantation genetic diagnosis, as well as extensive resources to address financial and emotional needs. Fostering a culture for continuous innovation has made FCI home to the annual Midwest Reproductive Symposium which attracts experts in the field of reproductive endocrinology from around the world. FCI has 10 offices conveniently located throughout the Chicagoland area (Buffalo Grove, Chicago/River North, Crystal Lake, Glenview, Highland Park, Hoffman Estates, Lindenhurst, Warrenville, Oakbrook Terrace, and Orland Park). FCI is a member of the Attain Fertility Network which provides discounted fertility treatment programs. For more information visit

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Gina Kremer