Deciding whether or not to get genetic testing to find out your chances of getting cancer is difficult. Many people don't want to know the answer. This is the exact dilemma that The Doctors producer Leslie faced.
Both Leslie’s father and grandfather died following battles with pancreatic cancer . Due to the prevalence of cancer in her family, her gastroenterologist Dr. Mitchell Spirt recently suggested she undergo genetic testing for the pancreatic cancer gene, which can also be an indicator of cancers of the colon, breasts, stomach, and prostate.
After deciding to get tested, Leslie became apprehensive. “I actually had the laboratory hold my results for months. I told them not to do the testing. They would call me every week… I didn’t know if I wanted to know the truth. I didn’t know how much it would impact my life,” she says, explaining she worried about becoming too consumed with the test results and not being able to live her life.
Leslie pushed through her fears and got tested and she happily shares she tested negative for all the genes.
The thought of what her father went through helped Leslie face her fears. “All the memories came flooding back of how my dad died… he didn’t die a good death, that pancreatic cancer robbed him of everything good in this life and I don’t want to go that way. He wouldn’t want me to go that way,” she shares, saying Dr. Spirt explained that knowing if she had the genes could allow them to effectively monitor and possibly treat her.
Leslie’s sister Stacey, who also joins The Doctors, shares a different view on genetic testing. “If I were to develop pancreatic cancer or any other cancer, I feel that would be my destiny… I would rather just live my life and however, I’m destined to go is how I feel I’m going to go.”
Dr. Stork explains that genetic testing might offer important information and relief to many patients, but he warns that it is still an imperfect science and a negative result does not 100 percent guarantee that the patient will not get cancer.
With pancreatic cancer only having a 5 percent survival rate the prognosis might seem dismal, but through genetic testing and early detection, there are more and more options available to patients. Watch the video below to learn more about the advances medicine has for people suffering.