We have the ATM mutation in my family. It is a germline mutation similar to BRCA and includes breast and other types of hormonally driven cancers. I don’t fully understand the details of how it works, but we have seen in my family that the mutation seems to have a more aggressive affect in each subsequent generation.
What does this mean for my family? 4 out of the 6 of us (yes, I have 5 siblings) have been tested and 2 of us are positive, me and my sister who is 18 months younger than I. Two of my siblings have yet to be tested. Our children, there are currently 5 grandchildren for my parents, are too young to be tested.
Will the mutation get stronger in my children’s generation? Possibly. We don’t know yet. What I do know is that we will educate the next generation far more than we were so that they can make the best decisions regarding their own children.
For instance, I tell as many people as possible that they should get genetic testing done before undergoing fertility treatments. There are also options to select genetic components that don’t pass along a genetic mutation to children. I get that there are ethical considerations and I’m not advocating for any particular choice.
I’m advocating for education, for people to understand what decisions they are making. I didn’t know what I didn’t know and I want better for my children.