BRCA Basics

The term BRCA is often used in the news, but many women are still unsure what BRCA is or what it means.  BRCA is the acronym for Breast Cancer Genes 1 and 2. If your family has a history of breast cancer before age 50, you might consider being tested to see if you carry BRCA. If you do, you will want to consult with your geneticist and gynecologist about proactive steps you might take to screen for and prevent breast cancer in your future. You should have earlier and more frequent mammograms, and you might consider preemptive mastectomy if breast cancer is particularly prevalent and deadly in your family.

BRCA also indicates a higher probability of ovarian cancer in those who have the genetic mutation. Those who survive BRCA-related breast cancer sometimes opt to have their ovaries removed before they, too, develop cancer.

As with any genetic mutation that makes members of a family more susceptible to cancer, you should inform the other women in your extended family that you have the BRCA gene so that they can also make informed decisions about seeking testing and preventive medical care.
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This content was written by staff of by non-medical professionals based on discussions, resources and input from other patients for the purpose of patient-to-patient support.  Reprinted with permission: BRCA Basics

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