How you prepare

By Mayo Clinic Staff

The first step in the BRCA gene testing process is to meet with a genetic counselor. As soon as you consider having any genetic test, meet with a genetic counselor to determine whether it's appropriate for you and to discuss the potential risks, limitations and benefits.

The genetic counselor takes a detailed family and medical history, assesses your risk of developing cancer, discusses risks and benefits of genetic testing, and outlines your options.

To prepare for your meeting with a genetic counselor:

  • Gather information about your family's medical history, especially that of close relatives.
  • Document your personal medical history, including collecting records from specialists or results of previous genetic testing, if available.
  • Write down questions for the counselor.
  • Consider having a friend or family member accompany you to help ask questions or take notes.

Proceeding with genetic testing after you meet with a genetic counselor is up to you.

If you decide to have a BRCA gene test done, prepare yourself for the emotional and social implications that learning your genetic status might have. Test results could also fail to provide you with clear-cut answers regarding your cancer risk, so you prepare to face that possibility, too.

Aug. 22, 2013