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Sunday, December 21, 2014
Lowering the possibility of not knowing
Island Park resident raises awareness about cancer test
Courtesy Gina McLoughlin
Gina McLoughlin, who works in Woodmere and lives in Island Park, is raising awareness of the cancer test, BRCA, which determines person’s risk for breast and ovarian cancers. From left, McLoughlin and her mother, JoAnn Jermann.

After her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer seven years ago, Gina McLoughlin asked her doctor about the BRCA test, a test that identifies a person’s family history and determines their risk for developing Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome.

McLoughlin’s doctor didn’t think the test was necessary since her mother, JoAnn Jermann, a Long Beach resident, developed ovarian cancer due to the hormone treatments she took at the time, but McLoughlin persisted. “When you have breast or ovarian cancer in your family it’s important to make sure you’re okay,” she said.

In April McLoughlin, an Island Park resident, had the test done by Long Island Radiology in Hewlett and waited six weeks for the test results to determine whether she had the BRCA1 gene which means a person has a higher chance of getting both ovarian and breast cancer while the BRCA2 gene is only ovarian cancer. She tested positive for the BRCA 2 gene. “It doesn’t mean I have ovarian cancer it just means that my chances of having cancer is elevated tremendously,” she said. “It gave me a chance to be proactive.”

Dr. Vicki Bayda of Long Island Radiology in Hewlett administered the BRCA test to McLoughlin and said the procedure is simple and noninvasive. “It’s like mouthwash; the patient swishes it around in their mouth and we send it to the lab,” she said.

McLoughlin, who works at Dr. Neil Berman’s dental office in Woodmere, immediately began receiving genetic counseling following the test results and was told the best thing she could do was to have a hysterectomy to remove her fallopian tubes, ovaries and uterus. “I discussed it with my doctor who didn’t suggest a double mastectomy because if I was taking out my ovaries and uterus then my chances of breast cancer would also go down,” she said. “I was done having my kids and I had seen my mother suffer for seven years.”

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