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Healthy Sisters Have Breasts And Wombs Removed To Avoid Cancer That Killed Their Mother At 32

01/02/2012 13:02 | Updated 22 May 2015
Three healthy sisters have double mastectomies - and two have hysterectomies - to save their livesSWNS (left to right) Sisters Luan Moreton, Kim Jones and Jemma Dennis
Three healthy sisters have had their breasts removed – and two have had hysterectomies - to save their lives! Luan Moreton, Kim Jones and Jemma Dennis took drastic action to minimise the risk of them ever getting cancer.

The sisters lost their mother to breast cancer when she was only 32, and tests revealed that they had inherited the same faulty gene called BRCA1.

They decided to have preventive double mastectomies as an alternative to a lifetime of monitoring and anxiety.

The two elder sisters have also had hysterectomies after doctors told them the faulty BRCA1 gene gave them a 50-60 per cent chance of developing ovarian cancer. Youngest sister Jemma wants to start a family first.

Now the trio are urging other women to be screened for the gene and consider pre-emptive surgery before cancer strikes.

Three healthy sisters have double mastectomies - and two have hysterectomies - to save their livesSWNS Kim, Jenna and Luan as children

Luan, 38, told the Daily Mail: "We were all very close growing up after what happened to Mum, but these operations have made us even closer.

"I feel that we are lucky because we realised we all had the gene and took steps to prevent it from developing.

"People need to know that there are things you can do to minimise the risk. Mum must have had the gene but she was never tested for it.

"It was too late for her – but we were able to do something about it."

She was 12, her sister Kim seven and Jemma just four when their mother Rita died in 1986.

Three healthy sisters have double mastectomies - and two have hysterectomies - to save their livesSWNS Their mother Rita on her wedding day

In 2005 Luan from Nuneaton, Warwickshire, discovered a lump in her breast two weeks before she married husband Sean, a printer.

Tests showed she had breast cancer and later that month doctors carried out a lumpectomy, which was followed by a six-month course of chemotherapy and four weeks of radiotherapy.

The treatment was successful, but further examinations carried out when she was pregnant with her son Nate, now four, revealed she was carrying the faulty BRCA1 gene which gives an 85 per cent chance of developing breast cancer.

Her sisters took blood tests which showed that they, too, had the faulty gene.

Luan said: "It was daunting but we agreed that we would all rather have the operation than not be around in a few years' time."

Jemma was first to have the surgery in 2007. "For me it wasn't even a decision," she said.

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It wasn't a case of 'if' I got cancer, it was a case of 'when'. I didn't want to sit and wait for it to happen. "I knew I wanted to have a double mastectomy, and I wanted it done quickly so I couldn't dwell on it.

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Luan was next in 2008 and Kim, 33, followed in 2009. All recovered well, but were then told it was highly likely the faulty BRCA1 gene could go on to cause ovarian cancer.

They made the heart-wrenching decision to have hysterectomies, meaning they could no longer have children.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said: "The BRCA1 gene is one gene that can contribute to a breast cell becoming cancerous if it is mutated.

"When a mutated BRCA1 gene is passed from parent to child, all the breasts' cells carry this mutation. They have a head start in the process of collecting enough genetic mutations to enable them to become cancerous."

Around 100,000 British women are believed to carry dangerous versions of the BRCA1 and related BRCA2 genes. They can currently decide between a lifetime of regular monitoring or pre-emptive mastectomies.

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