Take Two®

News and culture through the lens of Southern California. Hosted by A Martínez

The complicated ethics of genetic testing for cancer and preemptive surgery

by Take Two®

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Actress Angelina Jolie recently opened up to the world about her decision to undergo surgery because of a genetic marker that indicated her cancer risk. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Last week actress Angelina Jolie made headlines when she revealed that she underwent a voluntary double mastectomy because she found out that she was a carrier of the BRCA1 gene which gave her an 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer.

Now a man in the UK has become the first person to have pre-emptive surgery to remove his prostate because he carried the BRCA2 gene. This was after traditional test had not found evidence of pancreatic cancer.

So what does this say about the future of cancer care? Is there a danger associated with the genetic cancer tests? Will it cause people to request unnecessary surgeries?

Dr. Arthur Caplan, professor of Medical Ethics at New York University Langone Medical Center, joins the show to explain how these genetic tests work, and how you might be able to predict cancer by looking at your DNA.


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