What Is BRCA Testing and Who Should Be Tested?

breast cancer There are two types of breast cancer genes every woman is born with: BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2). These genes do not generally put a woman’s health at risk. In fact, their purpose is to actually suppress tumor growth. However, some women are born with – or experience mutations of – these genes in their lifetime. And when they mutate, they can increase the risk of breast cancer. These abnormal and mutated genes can be inherited from either your mother or your father.

Who Should Be Tested?
There are certain characteristics that indicate that BRCA testing may be necessary, including women with:

  • One or more relatives who have tested positive for BRCA
  • A history of breast cancer in more than one generation
  • Two or more close relatives who have had breast cancer
  • Family members who were diagnosed with cancer before age 50
  • A history of ovarian cancer in one or more family members
  • One or more family members with cancer in both breasts
  • Eastern and Central European Jewish ancestry with a strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer

What Is Involved?
There are three primary steps in BRCA testing. The first is genetic counseling, during which a genetic counselor will outline the tests that will take place, possible risks and the meaning of a positive and negative result. The second step involves a blood test and genetic analysis, and the third step is when the results of the test will be discussed. Most genetic testing is done anonymously; women are given a randomly assigned number for identification.

What Are the Benefits?
Even if you’ve already been diagnosed with breast cancer, BRCA testing can still be very valuable. It’s an excellent way for you and your physician to tailor a better treatment plan designed for BRCA-positive women. It’s also helpful in alerting other family members to their risk for BRCA in an effort to protect them against developing breast cancer.

To find out more about if BRCA testing may be right for you, contact Women’s Care of Beverly Hills Group to learn more about our range of services by calling 310-657-1600.

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