Thursday, 23 May 2013
Angelina Jolie has gone public and told the world she has had a double mastectomy because she carries a breast cancer gene. There are two genes BRCA and BRCA2 that are proven to cause breast cancer, and two other genes,TP53 and PTEN that can significantly increase a woman's risk of developing the disease.
Debate rages on over if she, and other women who have undergone prophylactic mastectomy have done the right thing. Nobody has the right to tell an individual what they should or shouldn't do in these situations but as gene research continues the question of how far we will go to avoid cancer comes into play.
Reports have made it into the media regarding men having their prostate gland removed because they carry the gene for prostate cancer, again, this has to be their choice but that question of how far to go still lingers, often unsaid in the background.
Cancer in some form will affect one person in every three on average in the UK at some time in their lives. It is indiscriminate even amongst those who have no known cancer encouraging habits. It crosses all barriers and affects all age groups.
Cancer, or to give it it's correct medical name, malignant neoplasm is on the increase all across the western world and much of the rise is attributed to lifestyle. These correlations between cancer and modern living are not new. In recent decades smoking has been seen as one of the major causes of the disease, but it was only 30 years ago that it was common to see doctors smoking in their surgery whilst treating patients.
I am in no doubt that as time moves forward more and more lifestyle choices will be implicated in relating to or causing cancer. How we will deal with that is unclear and although I stand by my comment that an individual has the choice of removing parts of their body to prevent cancer, I am not sure where that will lead us as a species.
Will insurance companies start demanding gene testing before they will insure us? Will we be denied medical care if we make what is considered an incorrect lifestyle choice? Hopefully not, but nobody knows for sure how prophylactic amputations will impact all of our futures.
Can I take this opportunity to say good luck to the girls from Tune Hotel Kings Cross in their 5km Race for Life in aid of Cancer Research UK.