BRCA testing finds mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes
Researchers know that BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that suppress cancerous (malignant) tumors in humans. When these genes mutate in specific ways we know that they do not have the ability to suppress cancer. This puts the patient at an increased risk for certain cancers.
Mutations in these genes increase a woman’s risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer, as well as cancer that occurs in the cervix, uterus, colon, pancreas, and even the gallbladder and stomach.
Our Grapevine gynecologists are particularly interested in BRCA testing due to the increased risk of breast and ovarian cancer in women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists reports that the risk of breast cancer in the general population is 12%, but patients with the BRCA1 mutation have a 55-65% risk, and those who have the BRCA2 mutation have a 45% risk. For ovarian cancer, while the general risk to the population of developing this cancer is 1.4%, patients with the BRCA1 mutation have a 39% risk, and those with the BRCA2 mutation have an 11-17% risk.
Which patients benefit from BRCA testing?
Patients who have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer may consider asking the family member who has had cancer to undergo BRCA testing. If her test indicates that she has a mutation, then the patient will want to talk with our Grapevine gynecologists about having BRCA screening.
If the patient cannot determine that a family member has the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation, she should also talk to our physicians about pursuing BRCA testing. There are other factors that should prompt patients to consider BRCA testing besides the all-important family history factor.
- Being diagnosed with breast cancer before age 50
- Having been diagnosed with breast cancer in both breasts
- The patient and/or her family member having been diagnosed with both breast and ovarian cancer
- Patients who have recurring breast cancer
- Women who have male relatives diagnosed with breast cancer
- Patients who have a relative diagnosed with 2 or more primary types of cancer that are related to the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation; for example, one person who has had both colon cancer and breast cancer
Testing and test results
BRCA testing is a simple blood test. The patient’s blood is sent to a laboratory where it is analyzed for the presence of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation. If test results are positive, our Grapevine gynecologists will meet with the patient and discuss preventative strategies in detail.
Our Grapevine gynecologists and caring staff always walk patients through the process of BRCA testing, knowing that patients may feel anxiety about the test and the test results. If you are concerned about your risk of breast or ovarian cancer, contact us today.