Mutations to either breast cancer gene — BRCA1 or BRCA2 — significantly increase your risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer when compared with the cancer risk of a woman without a BRCA gene mutation. Men with inherited BRCA gene mutations also face an increased risk of breast cancer. BRCA mutations may increase the risk of other types of cancer in women and men as well.
You might be at increased risk of having a BRCA gene mutation — and a candidate for BRCA gene testing — if you have:
Who should consider BRCA gene testing?
Ideally, in a family that might carry a BRCA mutation, the youngest family member who has breast cancer will have the BRCA gene test first. Genetic counselors can help you identify who this person is, based on family history. If this individual agrees to genetic testing and doesn't carry the BRCA gene mutation, then other family members won't benefit from taking the test.
The BRCA gene test is a blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify harmful changes (mutations) in either one of the two breast cancer susceptibility genes — BRCA1 and BRCA2. Women who have inherited mutations in these genes face a much higher risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer compared with the general population. The BRCA gene test is offered only to people who are likely to have an inherited mutation, based on personal or family history, or who have specific types of breast cancer. The BRCA gene test isn't routinely performed on women at average risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
Having a BRCA gene mutation is uncommon. Inherited BRCA gene mutations are responsible for about 5 percent of breast cancers and about 10 to 15 percent of ovarian cancers.
After having a BRCA gene test performed, you will learn if you carry an inherited BRCA gene mutation and receive an estimate of your personal risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Genetic counseling is an important part of the BRCA gene test process.
Angelina Jolie's Story
Angelina Jolie made national headlines after revealing the news that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to prevent cancer. Conni Murphy, ARNP, RNC, of the Cancer Genetics and High Risk Program at Jupiter Medical Center and Amy Byer Shainman, a Hereditary Cancer Health Advocate, discuss Angelina Jolie's decision to undergo preventative cancer surgery on WPTV.
**Please return your packet to the Margaret W. Niedland Breast Center For more information, call 561-263-2000.