October 21, 2014 | by F. Ames Smith Jr. MD, FACS

The Polyclinic’s breast surgeon, Dr. Ames Smith, was recently included in the cover story of the fall/winter issue of Seattle Health magazine entitled, Taking Control of Cancer. Dr. Smith discussed the screening and genetic testing program he has helped implement here along with the support of breast imaging, primary care and OB/GYN physicians and the importance of identifying women with a family history of breast cancer. Below are two excerpts from the article. The magazine is available on newsstands or you can sign up for a digital copy of the magazine here.

“There’s no question there’s been a big increase in screening for BRCA1 and BRCA2 [following actress Angelina Jolie’s announcement], not only in our practice but nationally and even internationally,” says Smith. Jolie’s mother, maternal grandmother and a maternal aunt all died of breast and/or ovarian cancers. Smith says in families like Jolie’s, “It’s almost like a feeling of when am I going to get cancer, not if.” By choosing risk-reducing double mastectomy, he says, Jolie “reduced her risk of [developing breast cancer] by over 90 percent.”

“Since 2012, we’ve identified 10 BRCA-positive women and we’ve had one Lynch-positive woman (which increases the risk of colon cancer), and so were able to implement surveillance and in some instances, risk-reducing surgery, when it was appropriate, and that’s also leading to further testing for their families,” says Smith.