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7 Things to know: BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genetic testing

7 Things to Know
May 14, 2013 1:43:18 PM PDT
Angelina Jolie underwent the procedure after learning she carried a gene that made it extremely likely she would get breast cancer.

1) The BRCA1/BRCA2 genetic test is NOT perfect--know the pros and cons, talk to a genetic counselor BEFORE having the test

2) BRCA1 and BRCA2 are human genes that belong to a class of genes known as tumor suppressors. Mutation of these genes has been linked to hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

3) A woman's risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a deleterious (harmful) BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Men with these mutations also have an increased risk of breast cancer. Both men and women who have harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations may be at increased risk of other cancers.

4) Genetic tests are available to check for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations. A blood sample is required for these tests, and genetic counseling is recommended before and after the tests.

5) If a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation is found, several options are available to help a person manage their cancer risk.

6) Federal and state laws help ensure the privacy of a person's genetic information and provide protection against discrimination in health insurance and employment practices.

7) Many research studies are being conducted to find newer and better ways of detecting, treating, and preventing cancer in BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation carriers. Additional studies are focused on improving genetic counseling methods and outcomes. Our knowledge in these areas is evolving rapidly.

SOURCE: NATIONAL CANCER INSTITUTE

LINK: http://www.cancer.gov/

LINK: Find a genetic counselor close to you


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