Are You A Candidate For BRCA Gene Testing?
Genetic testing offers a way to detect how vulnerable you are to certain inherited diseases or cancers. One of the most widely used forms of genetic testing is specifically for women. It involves the BRCA gene mutation, which determines a woman’s risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer.
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes produce tumor-suppressing proteins that help repair damaged DNA. When these genes are mutated, the cells have a greater chance of forming cancer. The National Cancer Institute reports that nearly 12% of women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives, and 55 to 65 % of those with a BRCA1 mutation and 45% of women with a BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer! Therefore, BRCA gene testing is a highly valuable resource for women who want to know their level of risk for breast and ovarian cancer and take proper action to prevent the disease.
Who Should Get BRCA Gene Testing?
While genetic tests are available to everyone, they are not recommended for everyone. Women who have no personal history or family history of cancer are not good candidates for this additional testing. In fact, most insurance providers will not cover the cost of BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing unless you meet certain criteria.
You may qualify for BRCA genetic testing if you have one or more of the following criteria provided by Mayo Clinic :
- A personal history of breast cancer diagnosed at a young age (premenopausal or younger than age 50)
- A personal history of triple negative breast cancer diagnosed at age 60 or younger
- A personal history of breast cancer affecting both breasts (bilateral breast cancer)
- A personal history of both breast and ovarian cancers
- A personal history of ovarian cancer
- A personal history of breast cancer and one or more relatives with breast cancer diagnosed at age 50 or younger, one relative with ovarian cancer, or two or more relatives with breast or pancreatic cancer
- A history of breast cancer at a young age in two or more close relatives, such as your parents, siblings or children
- A male relative with breast cancer
- A family member who has both breast and ovarian cancers
- A family member with bilateral breast cancer
- A relative with ovarian cancer
- A relative with a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry, with a close relative who has breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer at any age
Gene testing involves a simple blood test. If you test positive for a gene mutation, it does not mean that you will get cancer. It simply means you have a greater risk than the general population. However, your physician may suggest more frequent mammograms or screenings, or you may opt to have a mastectomy or other surgical treatment to avoid the potential of cancer altogether. These are options that can be discussed with a genetic counselor and carefully weighed with one of our skilled physicians at North Pointe OB/GYN. Our clinic takes a strong, proactive approach when it comes to determining a patient’s risk for ovarian and breast cancer. We are committed to providing the tools, resources and testing necessary to ensure women don’t receive an unexpected and devastating diagnosis that could have been detected and treated early.
To learn more about BRCA gene testing, please give us a call in Cumming.