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.
June 18, 2015
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- Pruthi S (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. April 24, 2015.