Two Books About Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetics by Masha Gessen and Jessica Queller

Two Books About Breast and Ovarian Cancer Genetics by Masha Gessen and Jessica Queller

by Dr. Hsien-Hsien Lei
Posted April 11, 2008 in Books About DNA, DNA Quotes and Excerpts, DNA in General

blood mattersBlood Matters: From Inherited Illness to Designer Babies, How the World and I Found Ourselves in the Future of the Gene by Masha Gessen

In 2004 genetic testing revealed that Masha Gessen had a mutation that predisposed her to ovarian and breast cancer. The discovery initiated Gessen into a club of sorts: the small (but exponentially expanding) group of people in possession of a new and different way of knowing themselves through what is inscribed in the strands of their DNA. As she wrestled with a wrenching personal decision—what to do with such knowledge—Gessen explored the landscape of this brave new world, speaking with others like her and with experts including medical researchers, historians, and religious thinkers.

pretty is what changesPretty Is What Changes: Impossible Choices, The Breast Cancer Gene, and How I Defied My Destiny by Jessica Queller

Laura Landro of the Wall Street Journal reviewed both Blood Matters and Pretty Is What Changes.

As we learn more about our risks of developing a wide range of cancers and diseases, how and when should we use that information in making life-altering decisions?

That is the question tackled in two books, both of them written by women in their 30s who are of Ashkenazi Jewish descent and who learn that they carry the BRCA breast- and ovarian-cancer gene mutation that is common to their ethnic heritage. When Jessica Queller, a television writer, and Masha Gessen, a journalist, are confronted with the prospect of imminent prophylactic mastectomies and the future removal of their ovaries, they find themselves weighing the elevated cancer risk against their unrealized personal goals and their fear of disfiguring surgery. The women also have to contend with the often conflicting advice they receive from genetic counselors, scientists, physicians and fellow patients.

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[...] is free and will feature Jessica Queller, author of Pretty is What Changes: Impossible Choices, The Breast Cancer Gene and How I Defied My [...]


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