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Breast Cancer Health Center

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Breast Cancer (BRCA) Gene Test


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 weeks.

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 history.

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)

BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene changes are present.

Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene changes have about a 35% to 84% chance of developing breast cancer and between a 20% and 40% chance of developing ovarian cancer during their lifetimes.2, 3 These numbers show a wide range of chance and depend on your other personal and family history.

Men with BRCA1 changes have a higher risk of breast cancer and possibly other cancers, such as pancreatic, testicular, or prostate cancer. Men with BRCA2 changes have an increased risk of breast, pancreatic, and prostate cancers.2

Uncertain (called variant of uncertain significance or VUS)

This result may mean that a gene change is present but it is difficult for your doctor to know if the change is important and if it changes your chances of developing cancer.

What Affects the Test

Your doctor will talk with you about anything that may stop you from having the test or that may change the test results.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: November 14, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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