Breast Cancer (BRCA) Gene Test

A breast cancer (BRCA) gene test is a blood test to check for specific changes (mutations) in genes that help control normal cell growth. Finding changes in these genes, called BRCA1 and BRCA2, can help determine your chance of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer. A BRCA gene test does not test for cancer itself. This test is only done for people with a strong family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer and sometimes for those who already have one of these diseases. Genetic counseling before and after a BRCA test is very important to help you understand the benefits, risks, and possible outcomes of the test.

A woman’s risk of breast and ovarian cancer is higher if she has BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene changes. Breast cancer is extremely rare in men but BRCA2 gene changes have been linked to male breast cancer and possibly prostate, may also be higher. The gene changes can be inherited from either your mother’s or father’s side of the family.

Certain people have a higher chance of inheriting BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene changes.

Individuals with a personal history of, or a close blood relative (1st, 2nd or 3rd degree in the maternal or paternal lineage) with, any one of the Red Flags are at increased risk of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer (HBOC). Further clinical evaluation by a qualified healthcare professional to determine the appropriateness of genetic testing is warranted. “Breast cancer” includes both invasive cancer and ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS). “Ovarian cancer” includes epithelial ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer. Red Flags are not intended to be used as a guide for insurance coverage purposes.

Red Flags in You or a Relative

  • Breast cancer diagnosed at age 50 or younger
  • Ovarian cancer at any age
  • Two primary breast cancers
  • Male breast cancer
  • Triple Negative Breast Cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer with a breast or ovarian cancer
  • Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry with an HBOC-associated cancer
  • Two or more relatives with breast cancer, one under age 50
  • Three or more relatives with breast cancer at any age
  • A previously identified BRCA mutation in the family