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.


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.