BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes

About 5-10% of breast cancers are thought to be hereditary, or caused by abnormal genes that are passed down from a mother or father to child. Notable among these abnormal genes are the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Abnormal BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may account for up to 10% of all breast cancers, or 1 out of every 10 cases. A woman's risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a harmful mutation of the BRCA1 or BRACA2 gene. According to the most recent estimates:

  • 55-65 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70 years.
  • Around 45 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop breast cancer by age 70 years.
  • Men with these mutations also have an increased risk of cancer.

Breast Cancer Genetic Risk Assessment and Testing

Redmond Women's Center is pleased to announce that we now offer breast cancer genetic risk assessment and genetic testing for patients who qualify. Our experienced nurse practitioners will determine if you qualify for genetic testing based on your family and personal history. Based on this risk assessment, patients who qualify can choose to obtain genetic testing for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes through our testing service, Informed DNA. Patients will speak to a genetic counselor from Informed DNA testing services to determine your risk for cancer or a hereditary gene mutation. Most commercial insurance carriers cover all or part of the costs of genetic testing if you have any of the risk factors for breast cancer.

How Can I Benefit From Genetic Counseling?

Genetic counseling can help you determine your risk for developing breast cancer. Once you know your risk, your genetic counselor can help you determine how to reduce those risks for developing cancer. Family members of patients testing positive for BRCA1 and BRCA2 are at an increased risk of testing positive for the genetic mutation as well. Genetic counselors can provide information and support that can be helpful to family members who may be at risk for breast cancer.

What Should I Do if My Genetic Test Results are Positive?

Not all people who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic mutations will develop breast or ovarian cancer in their lifetime, but their risk is substantially higher than that of the average person. There are several ways that a person who tests positive for BRCA1 and BRCA2 can reduce their risk for breast cancer including:

  • More frequent screenings like mammograms or breast MRIs
  • Prophylactic surgeries like bilateral mastectomy and/or oophorectomy (removal of ovaries)
  • Certain medications like hormonal therapy

*Only you and your physician can make an educated decision about which method of cancer risk reduction works best for you. A person who tests positive for BRCA1 and BRCA2 should also advise their family members to be tested for these genetic mutations and to act to reduce their risk for breast and/or ovarian cancer.