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
- BRCA1 and BRCA2: Cancer risk and genetic testing. National Cancer Institute. http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/BRCA. Accessed June 3, 2013.
- Isaacs C, et al. Genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 3, 2013.
- Lindor NM, et al. A review of a multifactorial probability-based model for classification of BRCA1 and BRCA2 variants of uncertain significance (VUS). Human Mutation. 2012;33:8.
- Kurion AW, et al. Breast cancer risk for noncarriers of family-specific BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations: Findings from the breast cancer family registry. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2011;29:4505.
- Pruthi S, et al. Identification and management of women with BRCA mutations or hereditary predisposition for breast and ovarian cancer. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2010;85:1111.
- Mackay J, et al. Genetic counseling for hereditary predisposition to ovarian and breast cancer. Annals of Oncology. 2010;21:vii 334.
- Raby BA, et al. Genetic counseling and testing. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 3, 2013.
- Isaacs C, et al. Management of hereditary breast and ovarian cancer syndrome and patients with BRCA mutations. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed June 3, 2013.
- Kurian AW,et al. Survival analysis of cancer risk reduction strategies for BRCA1/2 mutation carriers, Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2010;28:222.