Why it's doneBy Mayo Clinic staff
Mutations to either breast cancer gene — BRCA1 or BRCA2 — significantly increase your risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer when compared with the cancer risk of a woman without a BRCA gene mutation. Men with inherited BRCA gene mutations also face an increased risk of breast cancer. BRCA mutations may increase the risk of other types of cancer in women and men as well.
You might be at increased risk of having a BRCA gene mutation — and a candidate for BRCA gene testing — if you have:
- A personal history of breast cancer diagnosed at a young age (premenopausal), breast cancer affecting both breasts (bilateral breast cancer), or both breast and ovarian cancers
- A personal history of ovarian cancer and a close relative with ovarian cancer or premenopausal breast cancer or both
- A history of breast cancer at a young age in two or more close relatives, such as your parents, siblings and children
- A male relative with breast cancer
- A family member who has both breast and ovarian cancers
- A family member with bilateral breast cancer
- Two or more relatives with ovarian cancer
- A relative with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry, with a close relative who has breast or ovarian cancer
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and a personal history of ovarian cancer
Who should consider BRCA gene testing?
Ideally, in a family that might carry a BRCA mutation, the youngest family member who has breast cancer will have the BRCA gene test first. Genetic counselors can help you identify who this person is, based on family history. If this individual agrees to genetic testing and doesn't carry the BRCA gene mutation, then other family members won't benefit from taking the test.
- Hamilton R. Genetics: Breast cancer as an exemplar. Nursing Clinics of North America. 2009;44:327.
- BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer risk and genetic testing. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA. Accessed Dec. 1, 2010.
- BRCA-1 and BRCA-2. Lab Tests Online. http://www.labtestsonline.org/understanding/analytes/brca/multiprint.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2010.
- Isaacs C, et al. Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2010.
- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Dec. 9, 2010.
- Litton JK, et al. Perceptions of screening and risk reduction surgeries in patients tested for a BRCA deleterious mutation. Cancer. 2009;115:1598.
- Hall MJ, et al. BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations in women of different ethnicities undergoing testing for hereditary breast-ovarian cancer. Cancer. 2009;115:2222.
- Meyer LA, et al. Evaluating women with ovarian cancer for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations: Missed opportunities. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010;115:945.
- Pruthi S, et al. Identification and management of women with BRCA mutations or hereditary predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:1111.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, et al. ACOG practice bulletin No. 103: Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2009;113:957.
- Peshkin BN, et al. Genetic counseling and psychosocial issues in women with an inherited predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2010.
- Isaacs C, et al. Options for women with a genetic predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Dec. 1, 2010.
- Esserman L, et al. Lessons learned from genetic testing. JAMA. 2010;304:1011.
- Berek JS, et al. Prophylactic and risk-reducing bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2010;116:733.