Fertility Clinics and Breast Cancer ‘Previvor’ Team Up to Raise Awareness About Genetic Risk of Disease

Fertility Clinics and Breast Cancer ‘Previvor’ Team Up to Raise Awareness About Genetic Risk of Disease

For patients with gene mutations that increase their risk for diseases such as breast cancer, fertility and in vitro fertilization (IVF) center Shady Grove Fertility (SGF) is offering individualized testing to lower the risk of passing the mutation to their children.

To educate patients about such interventions, as well as the availability of fertility preservation before any cancer treatment, SGF is partnering with women’s health advocate and former Miss USA and Miss America contestant Allyn Rose.

Rose also is a breast cancer “previvor,” meaning she’s a survivor of a predisposition to cancer, but has not had the disease. Her mother died from breast cancer when Rose was 16, and she lost both her grandmother and great aunt to the disease.

“One of the most challenging things about growing up without a mom is thinking that you’re going to have to face life’s special experiences alone. It’s especially true for a woman,” she said in a press release. “I understand the difficulties of having to become your own mentor, and I’m passionate about encouraging others to not allow trials in their lives to become negative defining moments.”

Because of her medical history, Rose was determined to protect herself and children she may have one day. She made headlines in 2012 as a 24-year-old Miss America contestant when she announced her decision to undergo a prophylactic bilateral mastectomy — the removal of both breasts to prevent cancer from developing.

Last year, Rose, who has a master’s degree in international business law, became the first woman with a mastectomy to model for Sports Illustrated. She also established the social media campaign #SelfExamGram to promote early breast detection and to remind women to check themselves for tumors each month.

In her nascent IVF journey with her husband, she has chosen to undergo preimplantation genetic testing for monogenic/single gene defects (PGT-M) to lower the risk of having a baby with an inherited condition. Her physician at the SGF Washington, D.C. location is Kate Devine, MD.

“This is an amazing experience to be able to help Allyn and her husband have children,” Devine said. “For women like Allyn, genetic testing is a safe and reliable means of reducing the possibility of having children with the genetic mutation a parent or parents may carry. At SGF, we test each embryo for the specific gene mutation and the patient may opt to use the embryos that test negative.”

If individualized testing turns up a disease-causing genetic mutation, the couple has the option to use IVF with PGT-M to lessen both the chance the mutation will be passed on to their child or children, and the offspring’s risk of disease. Shady Grove also offers patients the option to screen for more than 280 recessive gene mutations for diseases such as cystic fibrosis, Tay-Sachs disease, and spinal muscular atrophy.

In addition, SGF works with cancer patients to ensure expedited fertility preservation so that cancer treatment can quickly begin.

According to the American Cancer Society, 5% to 10% of breast cancer cases are likely hereditary, with the most common cause inherited mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. In normal cells, such genes help prevent cancer by repairing the cells’ DNA. Individuals with an inherited mutated copy of either gene from a parent increases their cancer risk by varying degrees, depending on the gene.

Shady Grove Fertility has 36 locations throughout Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Washington, D.C., Georgia, New York and Florida, plus an office in Santiago, Chile. Visit this website to find the nearest one. To schedule an appointment, call 888–761–1967, or complete this form.