How you prepare

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 of undergoing genetic testing.

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 proceed with the BRCA genetic test, 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 prepare to face that possibility, too.