BRCA Testing

Double Helix of DNA

The American Cancer Society recently shared an article with real-life stories about how genetic testing and counseling helped women make important decisions after their breast cancer diagnosis.

The National Cancer Institute reports, “not every woman who has a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will develop breast and/or ovarian cancer … but … is about five times more likely to develop breast cancer than a woman who does not have such a mutation.” Genetic testing provides the opportunity to determine if this gene mutation exists, and if it does, you can determine the best course of action.

What is BRCA?

“BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that produce tumor suppressor proteins. These proteins help repair damaged DNA and, therefore, play a role in ensuring the stability of the cell’s genetic material,” the National Cancer Institute explains. If a gene is mutated, DNA may become damaged and increase the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.

Before Diagnosis

Women have the option of genetic counseling and testing if they are considered high-risk for breast cancer. Those with any of the following history are strong candidates:

  • First degree relative (mom, daughter, sister) diagnosed before age 50
  • Second degree relative (grandmother, aunt) diagnosed, your risk increases slightly
  • Multiple generations on the same side of the family – likely a gene mutation
  • Multiple occurrences of breast cancer in the same woman; or breast and ovarian cancers in the same woman

If BRCA1 or BRCA2 are detected, options to lower your risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer include hormone therapy or surgery. Clinical trial participation provides the opportunity to help researchers assess new methods of early detection. Of course, we always recommend monthly breast self-exams and clinical breast exams, mammograms, and pelvic exams annually - or more frequently based on your provider’s recommendation.


After Diagnosis

If you develop breast cancer, having a BRCA mutation can affect the course of treatment. Some mutations may not respond well to hormone therapy, while others have a positive reaction. Your provider will review and discuss all the options so you can make an informed decision about your treatment options.

While most women diagnosed with breast cancer do not have an inherited gene mutation, some diagnoses are linked and its worth exploring if you’re at a high risk. Contact your Capital Women’s Care provider if you’d like to learn more about BRCA genetic testing.

Our Mission

The providers of Capital Women's Care seek the highest quality medical and ethical standard in an environment that nurtures the spirit of caring for every woman.


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