Breast Cancer (BRCA) Gene Test
How It Is Done
The health professional drawing blood
- Wrap an elastic band around your upper arm to
stop the flow of blood. This makes the veins below the band larger so it is
easier to put a needle into the vein.
- Clean the needle site with
- Put the needle into the vein. More than one needle stick
may be needed.
- Attach a tube to the needle to fill it with
- Remove the band from your arm when enough blood is
- Apply a gauze pad or cotton ball over the needle site as
the needle is removed.
- Apply pressure to the site and then a
How It Feels
The blood sample is taken from a vein in
your arm. An elastic band is wrapped around your upper arm. It may feel tight.
You may feel nothing at all from the needle, or you may feel a quick sting or
It is common to worry before a BRCA test and while waiting
for its results.
There is very little chance of a problem from
having a blood sample taken from a vein.
- You may get a small bruise at the site. You can
lower the chance of bruising by keeping pressure on the site for several
- In rare cases, the vein may become swollen after the blood
sample is taken. To treat this, you can use a warm compress several times a
- Ongoing bleeding can be a problem for people with bleeding
disorders. Aspirin, warfarin (Coumadin), and other blood-thinning medicines can
make bleeding more likely. If you have bleeding or clotting problems, or if you
take blood-thinning medicine, tell your doctor before your blood sample is
Some women may be
worried about the test results and how it will affect their life insurance,
disability insurance, or long-term care insurance.
A breast cancer (BRCA) gene test is a
blood test to check your chance of developing
breast cancer and
ovarian cancer. Test results may take several
Normal (called negative)
No changes were found in
the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
A negative result and your overall
family risk must be considered together.
- If a family member has a known BRCA change,
other family members may want to be tested.
- If your family member with breast
or ovarian cancer tests negative for BRCA changes, you probably don't carry
those changes, either. In this case, you have the same chance of
cancer as that of the general public, based on your age and personal and family
Only about 5% to 10% of breast and ovarian cancers are
linked to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene change. If you have a strong family history
of breast or ovarian cancer, you may still have a higher chance of developing
breast cancer even if you have a negative BRCA result. Other gene changes are
possible that make cancer more likely.
Abnormal (called positive)