I Tested BRCA Positive, Now What? 7 Things You Should Know

brca positive

If you have a family history of breast cancer and want to know if you’re at risk of getting it, too, a genetic test might provide the answers. A simple BRCA blood test can determine if there are changes in your genes, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which show you are at a higher risk of getting breast cancer. But what happens if your test results come back positive?

  1. A Positive Test Does Not Mean You Have Cancer: First, understand that a positive BRCA test result does not mean you already have breast cancer. Not everyone who is “BRCA positive” will get breast cancer down the road. There are many other factors that determine your ultimate breast cancer risk, including alcohol consumption, body weight, breast density, physical activity levels, age, and reproductive history, and this test result is just one. It is normal to worry about any positive test result, so the best thing to do is to inform yourself about what a positive BRCA test result means and what the next steps are if you test positive.
  2. A Positive Test Indicates You May Be at Risk: Statistics show a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation diagnosis means you have a 45 to 65 percent chance of getting with breast cancer by the time you turn 70. Remember, this doesn’t mean you will get cancer. It means you have a higher chance than someone else.
  3. A Positive Test May Alter Your Treatment: If you already have breast cancer, knowing you have a BRCA mutation may change your course of treatment as many breast cancers in women that are BRCA positive result in more aggressive tumors. Armed with this information, you should talk to your doctor about your current cancer treatment plan and determine what, if any, changes, should be made.
  4. You May Need Further Screening: If you have not been diagnosed, a BRCA positive test result should prompt you to create a screening plan with your doctor. You will probably have more breast screenings including mammograms, ultrasounds, and MRIs, starting at a younger age.
  5. Better Overall Health Improves Your Odds: Whether your test was positive or negative, taking steps to improve your health will reduce your risk of cancer. Eating right, not smoking, and avoiding the sun and other things that cause cancer help to improve your odds.
  6. You May Opt for Preventative Surgery: Depending on the genetic test results, your own health history and your current health, some women who are BRCA positive have undergone a preventative double mastectomy, which is the surgical removal of both breasts. It’s important to note that this reduces, but does not eliminate, your risk of developing breast cancer.
  7. You Need to Alert Your Family: Getting a positive BRCA test result naturally leads to concern about the breast cancer risk for children and other family members. Notify them of your positive results and talk to the genetic counselor about getting other family members tested.

To learn more about natural breast reconstruction and find out if it might be the right choice for you, contact The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction at NaturalBreastReconstruction.com or toll-free at 866-374-2627.

What is a BRCA Test and Do I Need One?

What is a BRCA Test and Why Do I Need One

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, “In the general population, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 12% and the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is about 1.4%. The risks increase with age.”

So how can you tell if you are at risk for breast cancer? One way is through a BRCA test.

What is a BRCA test?

There are a variety of BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations present in individuals around the world, and a BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 test is used to detect various mutations in the genes. Some of these mutations are seen in individuals who have a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you would be a good candidate to receive a BRCA test to determine if you carry the same gene mutation. However, a BRCA test is not recommended for the general public. It is only recommended for individuals who have a close relative(s) that has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, especially before the age of 50.

It’s important to note that there are options for individuals who receive a positive result on their BRCA test and there are ways to help prevent the onset of breast or ovarian cancer. Just because someone receives a positive result on their BRCA test, doesn’t mean they will definitely develop breast or ovarian cancer. The positive result means that they are at higher risk of developing these cancers.

It’s also important to note that if an individual receives a negative result from the BRCA test, this doesn’t completely rule out the development of breast or ovarian cancer in the individual for the future. This is because the BRCA test can only detect if a person has a hereditary breast cancer or ovarian gene mutation.

If you have more questions about breast cancer and testing for breast cancer, don’t hesitate to contact us.

 

One Woman’s Journey to DO Something About Her BRCA Status

Julie Moon
We at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction are delighted to share this In her Words post featuring Julie Moon, who is a 34 year old BRCA 1 positive breast cancer previvor. Julie wants other women to be educated, which is why she began the blog  Say it Anyway, where she shares her unique story and journey.

See below for our interview with Julie.

What type of reconstruction surgery did you have and how do you feel about the results?

I had a bilateral nipple sparing mastectomy and immediate SGAP reconstruction.  I am so excited about having natural looking breasts made from my own body that will be with me for the rest of my life and never have to be replaced.   I am so grateful to have found Dr. Craigie and his staff.  I knew as soon as I met them that I was in good hands.

Breast cancer runs in your family at what point did you decide to undergo preventative breast surgery?

I found out in 2007 that I was BRCA 1 positive.  I decided then that I would go ahead and have my third child and breastfeed her as long as she needed. I participated in the Atlanta Susan G Komen 3Day For The Cure in 2011 and I was moved over that weekend to DO something about my BRCA status.  I met with Dr. Craigie in December and had my surgery Feb 1, 2012.

What advice would you give to women who have undergone a mastectomy or double mastectomy and are unsure about natural breast reconstruction?

I would recommend that women look at lots of pictures.  I would recommend that they ask specific questions to other women who have undergone the procedure.  I found so much great information from the women at the FORCE.  I would also encourage them to not be afraid to travel to another city to get the procedure that they really desire.  I have three children and a very busy entrepreneur husband.  It was A LOT of work to organize all the friends, family and babysitters needed to care for my family while I was out of town for my surgery.  It was all so very worth it.

In what ways has breast cancer both negatively and positively affected your life?

I feel very blessed to be one of the women who actually knows what cancer was coming after me and be able to eliminate that risk before it knocked on my door.  My grandmother was a breast cancer survivor.  She was not lucky enough to be able to have had natural breast reconstruction and now as a grown woman I am able to see how that must have affected her life so dramatically.  My aunt died from complications of her chemotherapy that was treating her breast cancer.  My mom was smart enough to have a bilateral and reconstruction before they found cancer but ironically she already had it growing in her breast undetected.  My BRCA status has taught me how to face something ugly in the face and not be afraid of it but battle it with the best army I could find.

Have questions for Julie? Submit them here! Be sure to check out her blog for tons of educational resources.

Celebrating National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Week

Image to the left taken from the FacingOurRisk.org website.

In the United States, at least one million people carry genes, such as the BRCA or breast cancer gene, that put them at risk for cancer. In 2010, a Congressional resolution created National Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer (HBOC) Week.

From September 25–October 2, 2011, HBOC Week raises awareness of hereditary cancer and recognizes those affected, including those with a family history of cancer, ovarian and breast cancer survivors, and previvors, those with a high risk of cancer who have not yet developed it.

Previvor Day is Wednesday, September 28, 2011, and a free teleconference with inspirational speaker and previvor Merit Gest will be held at noon EST. This event will focus on empowering previvors to understand the complex choices they face and make decisions about their health. To register, visit http://meritgest.com/national-previvor-day-september-28-2011.html.

HBOC Week falls in the week transitioning from Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to Breast Cancer Awareness Month. During HBOC Week, Passing the Torch Ceremonies across the country pass a ceremonial flame from an ovarian cancer survivor to a breast cancer survivor to commemorate the transition.

The group FORCE (Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered) is a community dedicated to fighting hereditary breast and ovarian cancer, and it has chapters throughout the U.S. Events during HBOC Week are scheduled by local FORCE groups and can be found at http://www.facingourrisk.org/events/HBOCWeekEvents.php. This year, chapters will be sponsoring walk / runs, film screenings, conferences, discussions, and charity events.

FORCE’s website offers the latest information and research on HBOC, and features webinars, books, and movies, as well as support to hereditary cancer victims and their families. FORCE holds an annual conference and HBOC forum during the summer, and focuses on cancer advocacy, education, and peer support. Visitors to the site will find inspiring artwork and blogs, a tribute wall, and the latest news about HBOC.

For more information, or to find out how you can help, visit http://www.facingourrisk.org.

What is a BRCA Test and Do I Need One?

Dear Friends,

Since our physicians and staff members are attending The Joining FORCEs 2011 Conference this weekend, we thought we’d answer a question that pertains to this event.  Hope to see some of you at the conference in Orlando this weekend.

According to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry, “In the general population, the lifetime risk of developing breast cancer is approximately 12% and the lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer is about 1.4%. The risks increase with age.”

So how can you tell if you are at risk for breast cancer? One way is through a BRCA test.

What is a BRCA test?

There are a variety of BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 mutations present in individuals around the world, and a BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 test is used to detect various mutations in the genes. Some of these mutations are seen in individuals who have a high risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer. If you have a relative who has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, you would be a good candidate to receive a BRCA test to determine if you carry the same gene mutation. However, a BRCA test is not recommended for the general public. It is only recommended for individuals who have a close relative(s) that has been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, especially before the age of 50.

It’s important to note that there are options for individuals who receive a positive result on their BRCA test and there are ways to help prevent the onset of breast or ovarian cancer. Just because someone receives a positive result on their BRCA test, doesn’t mean they will definitely develop breast or ovarian cancer. The positive result means that they are at higher risk of developing these cancers.

It’s also important to note that if an individual receives a negative result from the BRCA test, this doesn’t completely rule out the development of breast or ovarian cancer in the individual for the future. This is because the BRCA test can only detect if a person has a hereditary breast cancer or ovarian gene mutation.

If you found this post helpful and have more questions about breast cancer and testing for breast cancer, click here to contact us.