Saturday, April 13, 2013

What is the BRCA Gene Test?


Many women know of the need for monthlly self breast exams along with the pros and cons of taking annual mammograms as a means of detecting for breast cancer. But what is the BRCA gene test?

This article will present some straightforward information on this test.

What is the BRCA test?

The BRCA gene test is only done with people who have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. A woman's risk of breast cancer is greatest if she has the BRAC1 or BRAC2 gene changes. This gene can be inherited from mother or father's side. Even men can have elevated BRCA1 or BRCA2, and if the results are elevated, they too, as are women, at increased risk for other cancers as well.

Who should take this test?
Here are some guidelines as to who should take the BRAC1 test.

-If you have a parent, sister, brother or children wih breast cancer at age 50 or younger. (These are first degree relatives).
-If there are three or more : aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews and grandparents at any age.(Second degree relatives).
-Both breast/ovarian cancer amongst first ad second degree relatives.
-A first degree relative with cancer in both breasts.
-Two or more relatives with ovarian cancer.
-A male relative with breast cancer.

So, what do I do with the results?
Armed with the knowledge from these tests, you should participate in genetic counseling, which should be employed even before the testing has begun. This information can help you decide if you should begin earlier screening breast exams, mammography (before the age of 50), and possibly taking medications such as Tamoxifen. Some people are a little more drastic and will opt for a preventive mastectomy or an oophorectomy (removal of ovaries).

Make sure that you discuss your results with a qualified counselor or health care professional.

Source: "Family History and Risk for Breast or Ovarian Cancer - Topic Overview"
Sherl Wilsher's Expert Author Email Alerts
Sign up to receive email alerts of Sherl Wilsher’s latest articles from!

Email Address: