Cancer Genes - BRCA1/BRCA2 Gene Testing
In some cases, a particular type of test may be required to measure a patient’s susceptibility to breast cancer or ovarian cancer. This requires a test of two breast cancer susceptibility genes—BRCA1 and BRCA2. If there are mutations in either of these genes, the patient has a much higher chance of developing breast cancer, in both men and women, and ovarian cancer in women.
Because a BRCA gene mutation is rare, the BRCA gene test is only recommended for patients who may have inherited a mutation based on family history. It isn’t generally performed on patients with an average risk of breast cancer. Patients with an inherited BRCA gene mutation account for only 5-8 percent of breast cancer cases and 10-15 percent of ovarian cancer cases.
A BRCA gene test will help determine a patient’s personal risk of breast or ovarian cancer. This test can help monitor any onset of either of these cancers, allowing treatment to be rapid and effective, should the disease come to fruition. At the Beverly Hills Cancer Center we're proud to offer BRCA testing at our Los Angeles facility to help empower people with the knowledge to make the right decision for their health.
BRCA gene mutation risks
There are several factors that would cause someone to be a candidate for BRCA gene testing, in which case our doctors are available to deliver among the most thorough genetic testing Los Angeles has available. They involve an increased risk of a BRCA gene mutation, which is indexed by the following conditions:
- A personal history of breast cancer
- A personal history of ovarian cancer
- An immediate relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer or premenopausal breast cancer
- Breast cancer in a male relative
- Breast and ovarian cancer in any family member
- Bilateral breast cancer in a family member
- Ovarian cancer in two or more relatives
- A relative who is known to have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- A personal history (age 45 and beyond, Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry or “Triple Negative Breast Cancer")
How the test works
The BRCA gene test is quite simple—it is typically a blood test. It can also be done as a saliva test. Both versions of BRCA testing are available at our Los Angeles facility. For the blood test, a needle is inserted into the arm to withdraw the blood necessary for testing. It then goes to a laboratory to have the DNA analyzed. The test results will be available within several weeks. At this point, patients will meet with their genetic counselor to discuss the results as well as any subsequent treatment options that may be necessary after receiving genetic testing at our Los Angeles cancer center.
In the case of a positive test result, this means there is a genetic mutation putting the patient at an increased risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer. This can mean any number of actions in moving forward after your genetic testing. Primarily it will mean increased monitoring of the breasts or ovaries to detect any potential onset of breast or ovarian cancer. This monitoring or screening can be done using an MRI or a mammogram. Additionally, oral contraceptives have been found to reduce the risk of ovarian cancer in patients with a BRCA gene mutation. Beyond these are several other preventative measures that may be discussed with a doctor to determine the best plan of action.
The test may come back negative or uncertain. A negative result means there is no identifiable genetic mutation present. An uncertain result means a gene mutation has been found, but that specific mutation has not been associated with cancer in other patients. While both of these results dramatically decrease the overall risk of breast cancer, it unfortunately does not eliminate the risk of nonhereditary breast cancer. At the Beverly Hills Cancer Center we are always striving to provide the best possible treatments as well as utilize the latest technology in cancer prevention. For these reasons and more we're proud to offer among the most thorough BRCA testing Los Angeles has available.
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