Breast and Ovarian Cancer (BRCA) Genetic Test
What is a breast and ovarian cancer genetic test?
The blood test for breast or ovarian cancer looks for changes, or mutations, in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Normally, these genes help control cell growth. Cancer occurs when cells change and grow out of control. Women who inherit these BRCA gene changes have a higher-than-average chance of getting breast or ovarian cancer.
If you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, this test can be one factor you consider when deciding whether you should take steps to lower your chance of cancer. Those actions may include taking medicine or having your breasts, ovaries, or both, removed. In deciding whether to have the test, you need to weigh your personal and family risks and your feelings, finances, and relationships with others.
Consider having genetic counseling to help you understand the benefits, risks, and possible outcomes of testing. Genetic counselors are trained to explain the test and its results. To find health professionals who provide genetic testing and counseling, call the cancer information service at the National Cancer Institute at 1-800-422-6237 (1-800-4-CANCER). To find a genetic counselor near you, contact the National Society of Genetic Counselors at (312) 321-6834 or visit their Web site at www.nsgc.org.
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