If you have a personal or family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, should you get screened for a BRCA mutation?
Patients with an early diagnosis of breast or ovarian cancer and/or a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer should consider BRCA testing. While mutations in the BRCA genes are the most common causes of inherited breast and ovarian cancer there are also other genes which are involved in these cancers. You should discuss your testing options with your healthcare provider.
Should you undergo BRCA screening if you have no known family members with cancer?
Recent studies show that up to 50% of women with BRCA mutations have no substantial family history of breast or ovarian cancer. The decision to screen for BRCA mutations is ultimately yours. Some factors to consider are how the results may impact your medical care and insurance, and how the results may impact your family members.
If you test positive what family members should be tested?
A positive test means you have almost certainly inherited the mutation from one of your parents although new mutations can very rarely occur. Your first degree relatives (parents, siblings, children) have a 50% chance of having the same mutation. Your second and third degree relatives are also at risk. Please consider the impact a positive test result might have on your family prior to undertaking the test.
What are the benefits of BRCA testing in men with a personal or family history of cancer?
Similar to women, BRCA testing identifies men with an elevated risk of developing certain cancers, notably breast and prostate, compared to non-carriers. Carrier fathers also have a 50% chance of passing BRCA mutations to their children.