BRCA Genetic Testing and Breast Cancer: Weighing the Options

(Originally Posted on Oct 28, 2014)

This month is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, so we’re covering BRCA genetic testing and breast cancer for this week’s edition.

Although there is a known genetic link in only 5 percent of breast cancers, it’s important to understand what factors can put you at risk for having a genetic predisposition to breast cancer.

If you are at risk, it is imperative that you know the testing options available.

BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 Genetic Mutation

The most common genetic testing for breast cancer are for the BRCA-1 and the BRCA-2 mutations. These mutations can be passed through either the mother or the father and they greatly increase the risk of ovarian cancer and breast cancer.

BRCA genetic testing for mutations is not recommended for the general population. Instead, they are recommended for women in certain high-risk groups:

What to Do With Results of the BRCA Genetic Test

In families at risk, the genetic test for the BRCA mutations is first offered to any individual with ovarian or breast cancer. If that person tests negative for the mutation, there is no need for the rest of the family to be checked.

In some families and individuals with gaps in knowledge of family history, certain individuals may choose to have the test. Always consult with your Gynecologist or Oncologist to make a well-informed and well thought out decision about whether or not to get tested.

If you test BRCA positive, you can benefit from more frequent and different types of screenings. In addition, some women choose to have preventative surgeries (such as mastectomy or hysterectomy) to decrease their risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.

There is no real medical risk to the BRCA screening tests (it is a simple blood draw) but getting tested can be part of an emotionally difficult process. However, for women genuinely at risk, knowing your BRCA status can be an important part of your healthcare planning.

Find an OB GYN Doctor in Palm Beach County You Can Trust

If you are concerned about your BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 risk or are due for your clinical breast exam, please call Palm Beach Obstetrics & Gynecology today at (561) 434-0111 or request to schedule your appointment online.

Our practice offers three convenient OB GYN doctor’s offices in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach and Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. We accept most insurance carriers and are currently welcoming new patients. 

REFERENCES

1. The Mayo Clinic Factsheet on BRCA Mutations

http://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/brca-gene-test/basics/definition/prc-20020361

2. Susan G. Komen Foundation Policy Statement on Genetic Mutations and Testing

http://ww5.komen.org/BreastCancer/GeneMutationsampGeneticTesting.html

3. US Preventive Services Task Force Fact Sheet On BRCA-Related Cancer: Risk Assessment, Genetic Counseling, and Genetic Testing

http://www.uspreventiveservicestaskforce.org/uspstf12/brcatest/brcatestsumm.htm

Author
Dr. Sam Lederman

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