Local patient uses genetic information to take proactive approach to breast health

Medical Minute

FENTON, Mo. – Elise Reese took a proactive approach to her breast health when her maternal aunt got genetic information that she shared. Despite not being in the recommended age range for regular mammograms, Elise took the genetic information seriously and upon recommendations of her primary physicians, worked with Dr. Pamela Bunting, a breast surgeon at SSM Health St. Clare Hospital.

Together, they completed her genetic markers and found she was at risk for both breast and ovarian cancer. With Dr. Bunting on her team, she started doing regular mammograms and within a year, found a small tumor.

Elise made the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy. She was able to avoid chemotherapy and move on with her life, the tumor was removed and no further activity was found in her lymph nodes.  

She says it was not an easy decision, but, “with the collaboration with Dr. Bunting, she really made me feel comfortable that I was making the right decisions for my treatment. So I had full confidence the entire time in my decision with the medical team here.”

Her outcomes have been remarkable. She is fully recovered and moving forward with her life. 

“From now on, I will be following up with Dr. Bunting once or twice a year for regular mammograms and I meet up with an oncologist about every three months and we do some preventative measures through endocrine therapy with daily medicine to block the cancer from returning,” she said. 

Elise’s message to other women is, “to stop delaying testing. Talk to your family. Talk to your physicians. Know your risk so you can get assessed. The real impact this has made on me is in my case, if I wouldn’t have taken action with the information, the type of cancer I had would not have been detected. And my outcome would have been very different.” 

She says without being proactive, “it would have been a matter of life or death.” Elise received her genetic information at 37 and received her diagnosis at 38. 

She said do not let the pandemic stop you. Make your appointments. SSM Health St. Clare Hospital is still taking appointments and seeing patients. Elise says, “early detection is key to saving lives.”

Take learn more about breast care, click here.

The SSM Health Medical Minute airs Wednesdays on News 11 at 7 p.m. and FOX 2 News at 9 p.m.

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