As a woman, you are born with two types of breast cancer genes. The first is breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1); the second is breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). While it may sound scary to have two genes named for breast cancer, their purpose is actually a noble one – to suppress tumor growth. But when a woman is born with, or experiences mutations of, this gene – which can be inherited from either a mother or a father – it may increase the risk of breast cancer.
Should You Be Tested?
If you are a woman with any of the following traits, you may want to consider BRCA testing:
Family history of breast cancer in more than one generation
- More than one relative who tested positive for BRCA
- Relatives diagnosed with cancer before age 50
- Family history of ovarian cancer in more than one relative
- One or more family members with cancer in both breasts
- People of Jewish descent
Taking the First Step
If you’re considering genetic testing, you will need to meet with a genetic counselor to assess whether testing is right for you, as well as to discuss the risks, limitations and benefits of BRCA testing. Based on your family and medical history, the genetic counselor can outline your options. Most often, the BRCA test is a blood test. The test is done confidentially. A blood sample is drawn from your arm and taken to a lab for DNA analysis. Results can take several weeks.
What are the Implications of a Positive Result?
A positive test result indicates that you have a mutation in one of the breast cancer genes, making you more at risk for developing breast cancer or ovarian cancer as opposed to someone without the mutation. However, positive results don’t necessarily mean you’ll get cancer. There are certain procedures and medications designed to reduce your cancer risk, including increased screenings, oral contraceptives, certain medications and preventive surgery.
If you have questions about BRCA testing, or if you want to learn more about the range of services provided by Women’s Care of Beverly Hills Group, contact us directly at 310-657-1600.