Category Archives: advertising
Myriad Genetics is launching a public awareness advertising campaign in Florida to promote testing of a BRCA mutation (AKA the breast cancer gene).
As both a healthcare marketer and a woman with a BRCA mutation, I’m thrilled that they are raising awareness. But I’m equally concerned. I should preface this by saying I haven’t actually seen the advertising materials but I’ve seen some press on the campaign. They quote an OBGYN as saying it’s a simple blood test. Sure it is. Most of these tests are simple but it’s the results that are not in the least bit simple. The article goes on to say: “Although no test is completely reliable, doctors recommend that all women know their BRCA status.”
Does that mean that all women should walk into their Primary Care Physician or OBGYN and take the test? Should women start doing this on their 18th birthday? Yikes. Are these doctor’s equipped to counsel women if they do have the BRCA mutation? Are they able to knowledgeably talk to the women prior to testing to discuss the implications of the test? BRCA is not something to take lightly.
If you have a known BRCA mutation, you have up to an 87% lifetime risk of developing breast cancer and up to 44% chance of developing ovarian cancer. Genetics Counselors are the people that should be drawing your blood, counseling you and guiding you through the process. They have the knowledge, the training and the time to give you what you need. I only hope that Myriad is making this clear in their advertising. This test is anything but simple.
Yesterday was the last day of school, and I spent some time reflecting on the school year. My life has changed dramatically in the past nine months. When I left the kids on the first day of school, I was 3 days a way from my first surgery. I had no idea why I got breast cancer, and I also had long hair. Picking them up yesterday, I thought about how much they grew and learned during the school year and how much I learned during their school year too. I can blurt out statistics about the BRCA gene without a second thought. I know what my platelets, white blood cells and red blood cell counts should be. I know about the standard drugs for breast cancer treatment and the various treatment options – 6 rounds of chemo three weeks apart, 8 rounds of chemo 2 weeks apart. I know that after you have surgery, it’s important to start moving right away to begin the healing process. I know all the things you need to do to prepare for surgery including no Advil the week before and no lotion the morning of surgery. I know the best pain medicine and the best anti-nausea medicine. I am a wealth of knowledge about things I never learned at the University of Wisconsin business school. In some interesting way, I enjoy my new found knowledge.
Today I discovered something else while reading an article sent to me in the Globe and Mail. 1 in 44 Ashkenazi Jewish Women carry the BRCA mutation compared to 1 in 400 in the general population. The new thought is that lots of Jewish women with no family history could be walking around with the BRCA mutation. This is interesting and empowering information. They are currently doing a study in Toronto testing Ashkenazi Jewish women without a family history. The test will help determine if BRCA screening will become something routinely offered to Jewish women.
I am getting ready for my first FORCE meeting next Wednesday. It will be interesting to discuss moving our local outreach group forward. I have big plans for our group and hope that we can make a difference in Southeast Michigan. While knowing you have the gene is scary, knowledge is power. We are here to spread the word, support women and make a difference. If you are interested in learning more about FORCE or BRCA, visit their newly redesigned website which has a wealth of information.