BRCA1 and BRCA2

What's the scoop?

 

Every single woman has both BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes are inside the cells that make up the body. In some cases, the genes have a mutation in which they don't do their job correctly and make it more likely that cancer cells will divide and grow.

 

People who have the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 mutation may be more likely to develop breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and even sometimes pancreatic, melanoma or prostate cancer.

 

Tell me more.

Even though these genes make you more susceptible to cancer, it doesn't mean that you are guaranteed to get cancer in your lifetime. In the United States 50% of people with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will get breast cancer by the age of 70. Similarly, in the United States 30% of women with the genetic mutation will develop ovarian cancer by the time they turn 70.

 

Who's most at risk?

 

You may be more likely to be positive for the BRCA mutation if either of your parents have the BRCA mutation. A parent has a 50% chance of passing the BRCA mutation to their children if they have the BRCA mutation.

 

You are also more likely to have the BRCA mutation if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Family history is particularly important if you have

  • a father, mother, sibling or child who has been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40
  • more than one family member who has had breast or ovarian cancer
  • a family member who had breast cancer in both breasts (bilateral breast cancer)
  • a family history of cancer and you come from an Eastern European Jewish background

 

 

How can I know if I have it?

 

If you have an increased risk of having the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 mutation, your doctor will do a blood test to check for both.

 

If the blood test comes back positive, then you have either the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genetic mutation. If the test comes back negative, then it means that you don't have either BRCA gene mutation, but you still may be at a higher risk to developing cancer because of your family history.

 

If you do have a genetic mutation, it is likely that the doctor will suggest genetic councelling so you can know your options to prevent a cancer diagnosis in the future.

 

I have it. Now what?

 

Ask your genetic councellor about medications that can help block estrogen in your body as well as preventative surgery options, such as a preventative mastectomy (removal of all breast tissue) and a preventative palpingo-oohorctomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes out of the female reproductive system).

 

Please note that these surgeries will have adverse side effects, so it's very important to ask your genetic councellor questions and determine what is right for you.

 

What's the scoop?

 

Every single woman has both BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These genes are inside the cells that make up the body. In some cases, the genes have a mutation in which they don't do their job correctly and make it more likely that cancer cells will divide and grow.

 

People who have the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 mutation may be more likely to develop breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and even sometimes pancreatic, melanoma or prostate cancer.

 

Tell me more.

BRCA1 and BRCA2

Even though these genes make you more susceptible to cancer, it doesn't mean that you are guaranteed to get cancer in your lifetime. In the United States 50% of people with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will get breast cancer by the age of 70. Similarly, in the United States 30% of women with the genetic mutation will develop ovarian cancer by the time they turn 70.

 

Who's most at risk?

 

You may be more likely to be positive for the BRCA mutation if either of your parents have the BRCA mutation. A parent has a 50% chance of passing the BRCA mutation to their children if they have the BRCA mutation.

 

You are also more likely to have the BRCA mutation if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Family history is particularly important if you have

  • a father, mother, sibling or child who has been diagnosed with breast cancer before the age of 40
  • more than one family member who has had breast or ovarian cancer
  • a family member who had breast cancer in both breasts (bilateral breast cancer)
  • a family history of cancer and you come from an Eastern European Jewish background

 

 

How can I know if I have it?

 

If you have an increased risk of having the BRCA1 or BRCA 2 mutation, your doctor will do a blood test to check for both.

 

If the blood test comes back positive, then you have either the BRCA1 and/or BRCA2 genetic mutation. If the test comes back negative, then it means that you don't have either BRCA gene mutation, but you still may be at a higher risk to developing cancer because of your family history.

 

If you do have a genetic mutation, it is likely that the doctor will suggest genetic councelling so you can know your options to prevent a cancer diagnosis in the future.

 

I have it. Now what?

 

Ask your genetic councellor about medications that can help block estrogen in your body as well as preventative surgery options, such as a preventative mastectomy (removal of all breast tissue) and a preventative palpingo-oohorctomy (removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes out of the female reproductive system).

 

Please note that these surgeries will have adverse side effects, so it's very important to ask your genetic councellor questions and determine what is right for you.

 

Symptom list:

BRCA1 and BRCA2