Your doctor will talk with you
about anything that may stop you from having the test or that may change the
What To Think About
There are several important things
to think about when you are making the decision to have a BRCA gene
Genetic counseling before and after a BRCA test will help you understand
the benefits, risks, and possible outcomes of testing. A BRCA test gives you
the chance to make informed medical and lifestyle decisions. To find doctors who do
gene tests and counseling, call the cancer information service at the National
Cancer Institute at 1-800-4-CANCER (1-800-422-6237). To find a genetic
counselor near you, contact the National Society of Genetic Counselors at (312)
321-6834 or visit their website at www.nsgc.org.
If you have a strong family history of breast cancer, a
negative BRCA result does not mean that you will not develop breast cancer.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene changes do cause a higher chance of breast cancer. But
other gene changes are possible and may cause cancer.
If you have a
family member with breast cancer, think about asking the family member to be
tested for a gene change before you have a test. If your family member's BRCA
tests results are negative, it usually is not helpful to test the rest of the
insurance companies will cover the cost of genetic testing for those who meet
the conditions for testing.
The discovery of
a genetic disease that is not causing symptoms now (such as breast cancer) should not affect your future ability to gain employment
or health insurance coverage. A law in the United States, called the Genetic
Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 (GINA), protects people who have DNA
differences that may affect their health. This law does not cover life
insurance, disability insurance, or long-term care
The United States Preventive Services Task
Force (USPSTF) does not recommend BRCA testing for women who do not
have family risk factors.2
For women from families that do not have risk factors
for BRCA changes, a genetic test is not likely to give any useful information
about their chance of developing breast cancer. Women from
average-risk families rarely have a positive test. A BRCA
gene test is not recommended for a person without risk factors, because the
test can give a
false-positive test result.
FORCE is an organization that provides educational and emotional support for women who are making decisions about surgery to prevent breast or ovarian cancer because they are at high risk. This website also has resources for women who have cancer and are concerned about their cancer coming back. There are online resources as well as a helpline, newsletters, and information on local groups and annual conferences.