There's no medical risk associated with being tested for a BRCA gene mutation other than the slight risks — including lightheadedness, bleeding or bruising — of having your blood drawn. Risks are associated with the emotional, financial, medical and social implications of your test results.

If you test positive for a BRCA gene mutation, you may face:

  • Feelings of anxiety, anger, sadness or depression
  • Concerns over possible insurance discrimination
  • Strained family relationships over learning of a familial genetic mutation
  • Difficult decisions about preventive measures that have long-term consequences
  • Feelings of "inevitability" that you'll get cancer

On the other hand, if you test negative for a BRCA mutation or your results aren't clear-cut — say you have a genetic mutation, but one that hasn't been associated with cancer in other people — you may experience:

  • Uncertainty and concern that your result may not be a true negative result
  • "Survivor guilt" if your family has a known gene mutation that may affect your loved ones
Aug. 22, 2013