Protecting Your Baby from Cancer: How Far Would You Go?

Suzanne Murray
6


brest cancer, baby, gene

photo by maisah

Last week a baby girl was born in Britain and her parents know that she isn't going to get breast cancer. The couple's children were at a very high risk of inheriting BRCA1, the breast- and ovarian-cancer related gene. Women who carry this gene have an 80 percent chance of getting breast cancer and a 60 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer. So how can they be sure she's safe?


The baby was conceived through in vitro fertilization. Doctors at University College Hospital in London created a number of embryos, had them all screened for the bad gene, chose one that didn't contain it, and implanted that in the mother.

"This little girl will not face the specter of developing this genetic form of breast cancer or ovarian cancer in her adult life," said Paul Serhal, Medical Director of the Assisted Conception Unit at UCL. "The parents will have been spared the risk of inflicting this disease on their daughter. The lasting legacy is the eradication of the transmission of this form of cancer that has blighted these families for generations."

This is the first baby girl to be born in Britain that was screened for breast cancer before conception. One thing all of this doesn't address: Research has found that only about 5 to 10 percent of breast cancer cases are genetically caused. The environment plays a huge role in the disease. So the parents can be sure she has the gene, but they can't be sure she won't get cancer. But they can hope.

How far would you go to protect your daughter from breast cancer? Or your baby from any other disease?

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