Breast Cancer (BRCA) Gene Test
breast cancer (BRCA) gene test is a blood test to check for specific changes
(mutations) in genes that help control normal cell growth. Finding changes in
these genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, can help determine your chance of
breast cancer and
ovarian cancer. A BRCA gene test does not test for
cancer itself. This test is only done for people with a strong family history
of breast cancer or ovarian cancer, and sometimes for those who already have
one of these diseases.
Genetic counseling before and after a BRCA test is
very important to help you understand the benefits, risks, and possible
outcomes of the test.
A woman's risk of breast
and ovarian cancer is higher if she has BRCA1 or BRCA2
gene changes. Men with these gene changes have an increased risk of breast cancer. And both men and women with these changes may be at an increased risk for other cancers. The gene changes can be inherited from either
your mother's or father's side of the family.
You may be more likely to have a BRCA gene change if you:1
- Were diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50.
- Have had breast cancer in both breasts.
- Have had breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
- Have one or more male family members who have had breast cancer.
- Have multiple cases of breast cancer in the family.
- Have at least one family member who has had BRCA-related cancer.
- Are an Ashkenazi Jew (a Jewish person whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe).
If you don't meet any of these criteria, you are not likely to have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change. Only about 2 or 3 out of 1000 adult women have a BRCA gene change.1
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