The BRCA gene test is a blood test that analyzes DNA to find mutations in either of the breast cancer genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2. The BRCA gene test will provide an estimate of a patient’s personal risk of breast and ovarian cancer. If a mutation is present in either one of these genes, a patient’s risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer is significantly increased compared to women without the mutations.
Who should get the BRCA gene test
The BRCA gene test is usually reserved for people who are likely to have an inherited mutation, based on personal or family history, or people who already have specific types of cancer. It is not normally given to women with an average risk of breast or ovarian cancer.
You might be a candidate for BRCA gene testing if you have:
- Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Family history or breast or ovarian cancer
- A relative with the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry and a personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer
How the BRCA gene test is performed
The BRCA gene test requires a simple blood draw, and carries very minimal risk, but preparation is important. Most experts recommend meeting with a genetic counselor first, who will determine if the BRCA gene test is right for you. The counselor will take a detailed family and medical history, tell you about the risks and benefits of the test, and help you understand your options.
The best defense against breast cancer
Whether or not you take the BRCA test, the best defense is regular breast exams, which can help detect cancers in early and more treatable stages. Perform self-breast exams at home and schedule your screening exam regularly, as instructed by your doctor.
Breast imaging at The Breast Center of Maple Grove
Maple Grove Breast Center offers a variety of breast imaging exams to meet the needs of all patients. Same day appointments and walk-ins are welcome in our relaxing and comfortable office.