How to Get BRCA Tested: A Comprehensive Guide

If you or someone you know has a family history of cancer or are at high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer, BRCA testing is an important step to manage your risk. In this comprehensive guide, we will be discussing everything you need to know about BRCA testing, including what it is, who should consider testing, how to get tested, and what the results mean.

What is BRCA Testing?

BRCA testing is a genetic test that checks for mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes, which are tumor suppressor genes that help prevent breast and ovarian cancer. A mutation in one or both of these genes can increase a person’s risk of developing breast, ovarian, and other cancers.

Who Should Consider Testing?

BRCA testing is recommended for individuals who have a personal or family history of certain types of cancers, including:

  • Breast cancer diagnosed before age 50
  • Breast cancer in both breasts
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Male breast cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with a personal or family history of breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer
  • Multiple family members with breast, ovarian or pancreatic cancer

If you have any of these risk factors, it is recommended that you speak with a genetic counselor to determine if BRCA testing is appropriate for you.

How to Get Tested

To get tested for BRCA mutations, you will need to speak with a healthcare provider or a genetic counselor. They will take a detailed family and medical history, which will help determine if BRCA testing is appropriate for you.

The Testing Process

The testing process usually involves a simple blood or saliva sample, which is sent to a laboratory for analysis. Results can take several weeks to come back, and your healthcare provider or genetic counselor will discuss the results with you once they are available.

Cost of BRCA Testing

BRCA testing can be expensive, and the cost can vary depending on where you live and the type of insurance you have. However, many insurance plans cover the cost of BRCA testing for individuals who meet certain criteria. It is recommended that you speak with your insurance provider to determine your coverage.

What Do the Results Mean?

If your test results show a mutation in one or both of the BRCA genes, it means that you have an increased risk of developing breast, ovarian, and other cancers. However, it is important to remember that having a BRCA mutation does not guarantee that you will develop cancer.

If you do have a BRCA mutation, there are several options to manage your risk, including increased screening, risk-reducing medications, and prophylactic surgery. Your healthcare provider or genetic counselor will discuss these options with you and help you develop a plan to manage your risk.

Interpreting Negative Results

If your test results do not show a mutation in the BRCA genes, it means that you are not at an increased risk for cancer due to these genes. However, it is important to remember that you may still be at risk for cancer due to other factors, such as family history, lifestyle, and environment.

Conclusion

BRCA testing is an important step for individuals who have a personal or family history of certain types of cancers. It can help identify individuals who are at an increased risk of developing breast, ovarian, and other cancers, and provide them with options to manage their risk. If you feel that you may be at risk, speak with your healthcare provider or genetic counselor to determine if BRCA testing is appropriate for you.

Most Common Questions and Answers

  • Q: Who should consider BRCA testing?
  • A: BRCA testing is recommended for individuals who have a personal or family history of certain types of cancers, including breast, ovarian, and pancreatic cancer.
  • Q: How do I get tested for BRCA mutations?
  • A: To get tested for BRCA mutations, you will need to speak with a healthcare provider or genetic counselor. They will take a detailed family and medical history, which will help determine if BRCA testing is appropriate for you.
  • Q: How much does BRCA testing cost?
  • A: BRCA testing can be expensive, and the cost can vary depending on where you live and the type of insurance you have. However, many insurance plans cover the cost of BRCA testing for individuals who meet certain criteria. It is recommended that you speak with your insurance provider to determine your coverage.
  • Q: What should I do if I have a BRCA mutation?
  • A: If you have a BRCA mutation, there are several options to manage your risk, including increased screening, risk-reducing medications, and prophylactic surgery. Your healthcare provider or genetic counselor will discuss these options with you and help you develop a plan to manage your risk.
  • Q: What if my test results are negative?
  • A: If your test results do not show a mutation in the BRCA genes, it means that you are not at an increased risk for cancer due to these genes. However, you may still be at risk for cancer due to other factors, such as family history, lifestyle, and environment.

References:

  • BRCA Testing. American Cancer Society. 2021
  • BRCA Mutation Testing. National Cancer Institute. 2020
  • BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer Risk and Genetic Testing. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. 2018

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *