In recent years, many advancements have been made in our knowledge of the relationship between genetics and breast cancer. Tests are now available to help identify numerous genetic mutations that increase your risk for breast cancer. BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes that have been linked to increased risk for breast cancer. BRCA testing could potentially help you to make informed decisions regarding your breast health.
What are BRCA1 and BRCA2?
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are two genes found in the human body. These genes belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. BRCA testing can reveal certain mutations to these genes can put you at high risk for developing breast cancer.
BRCA mutations run in families. Women discovered to have BRCA mutations commonly have a family history of breast cancer. BRCA mutations can also increase a woman’s risk of developing pancreatic cancer, stomach cancer, cervical cancer, uterine cancer and melanoma. In men, the gene mutations can contribute to the development of breast cancer, melanoma, pancreatic cancer, testicular cancer and early-onset prostate cancer.
Age is also an important factor to consider. Most breast cancers occur in women older than 40 and risk increases with age. When harmful BRCA mutations are present, your risk for developing cancer at a younger age is especially high. The average woman has about a 12% chance of developing breast cancer in her lifetime. When BRCA mutations are present, risk for developing breast cancer can be as high as 80%.
Genetic Testing for Breast Cancer
BRCA testing and testing for other genetic mutations can save lives. At Breastlink, we use several tests developed by different manufacturers to test for BRCA mutations, as well as mutations to other genes associated with increased risk for breast cancer. In addition to tests that only evaluate mutations to the BRCA genes, we offer multi-gene panel tests that evaluate up to 42 genes linked to increased risk for breast and other cancers.
Breastlink offers comprehensive risk assessment to help identify women who can benefit from genetic testing. We consider major risk factors like family history and personal medical history, as well as minor risk factors like prolonged use of menopausal hormones and early onset of menstrual period. This information can help you to decide when to begin breast cancer screening, how to receive screening, how frequently to receive screening and whether you should take steps to reduce your risk.