New genetic testing helps determine if you're carrier of breast, other cancer genes

MISSOULA - For the second year in a row, ABC FOX Montana is proud to be partnering with the Susan G. Komen foundation for Saturday's 'Race for the Cure.'

The goal is to raise funds for research and treatment in the fight against breast cancer.

One Missoula woman has been using her experience in being diagnosed and treated for breast cancer to help others detect the disease early.

Michelle Weaver Knowles was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 38, which was four years after her sister died of breast cancer.

Her sister's death and her diagnosis motivated her to be genetically tested for the disease.

She tested positive for the BRCA 1 gene, meaning people in her family are much more likely to develop breast cancer.

So she started Ava Health and this nurse practitioner says that if your family has a history of any type of cancer, testing for the BRCA genes, 1 and 2, may not be enough.

You may also want to test for TP-53 and more.

"It's important, I believe, to be doing panel testing," Weaver Knowles says. "When I counsel my patients, we look at all of those different genes. A lot of times, families have different cancers in their families, so if I've got someone who's got breast, and uterine and colon, and ovarian, that doesn't just hit the BRCA 1 and 2 genes, so that's why panel testing is becoming the thing to do. And we find out things that we didn't necessary expect, but it helps people be more proactive instead of reactive to a cancer."

Weaver Knowles says that there are roughly 160 genes you can test for to find out if you're a carrier of a cancerous gene.

If you do test positive, she works with each individual to develop a health plan for cancer prevention to make sure you are a previvor and not a survivor or victim of cancer.

In our efforts to race to find the cure, you can pickup your packet for the run at 7:30 AM on Saturday at Caras Park in Missoula.

That's when you can also register for the race, so don't feel that you'll miss out.

The race kicks off with a survivors' photo at 8:30 AM and the race starts at 9 AM.

And we'll be there every step of the way. We hope to see you there supporting this great cause!

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