Genetic Testing for Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Genetic Testing

Genetic Testing Quiz

Take a brief quiz to learn if you are at risk.

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Hereditary cancers occur because of a change (mutation) in certain genes that normally protect the body from developing cancer. This change increases a person’s risk for one or more types of cancer and can be passed from generation to generation.

For some genes, the risk is attributed to more than one type of cancer. The main hereditary breast cancer syndromes are also associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Hereditary breast and ovarian cancer risk can be passed down from either parent to their daughters or sons.

Signs of hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome

Signs of hereditary breast-ovarian cancer syndrome may include but are not limited to:

  • Breast cancer at age 45 or younger
  • Breast cancer in both breasts at any age
  • Both breast and ovarian cancer in the same woman
  • Two or more people within a family with ovarian cancer and/or breast cancer, especially if the breast cancer was diagnosed at or before age 50
  • At least one family member with breast cancer and one with ovarian cancer
  • Breast cancer in men
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and ovarian cancer at any age or breast cancer before age 60

Genetic Testing

The two genes most commonly associated with hereditary breast and ovarian cancer are BRCA1 and BRCA2.

People who have any of the risk factors for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer may wish to learn if they carry a mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. This testing is performed with a blood or saliva sample.

A positive genetic test indicates that a person has an increased risk for developing cancer. However, a positive result does not mean a person definitely will get cancer.

A negative test result does not mean a person will not get cancer sometime in his or her life.

These genetic mutations are very common in certain populations. For instance, experts estimate one in every 40 people of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish descent carries one of three particular BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations.

Experts believe there are other genes related to cancer risk, but tests are not yet available to detect these gene changes. Therefore, a negative genetic test cannot totally rule out a hereditary cancer syndrome in a family.

Genetic testing results may affect treatment and follow-up options for women who have had breast or ovarian cancer.

For these reasons, it is important to speak with a specialist in cancer genetics if you are concerned that cancer may run in your family.

How can I find out if I am at risk for hereditary cancer?

Genetic Counseling

A cancer genetic counselor, geneticist, or risk assessment counselor can help you understand hereditary cancer more clearly. This person will:

  • Review your family history of cancer
  • Assess and explain your risk for hereditary cancer
  • Describe the benefits and drawbacks of genetic testing and discuss whether you are a candidate for the test
  • Interpret genetic test results and explain what they mean for you and your family

Receiving genetic counseling does not mean that you are required to have a genetic test.

If you do not test positive for a genetic mutation, there are options available for decreasing your cancer risk. These options will be described to you during your genetic counseling session.

Cancer Treatment and You

Cancer Treatment and You

Genesis Cancer Care Institute now has an online class providing general information about treatments and support services for cancer patients and families.

Start the class today!

Related Classes/Events

  • Jun
    10
    Wednesday
    6:00 PM - 7:30 PM
    Attend a FREE Seminar presented by Leslie Poston, ARNP, Oncology Genetics Specialist to learn more about genetic counseling and hereditary cancer risk assessment options available at Genesis.
  • Ongoing
    The class teaches women how to perform effective breast self-exams.
  • Ongoing
    Program is designed to reach out to everyone in the life of a person with cancer.

Contact Us

For more information about our cancer services, please contact:

563-421-1909
800-446-6088
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Free Genetic Counseling Seminar

FREE Genetic Counseling Seminar

Oncology Genetics Specialist Leslie Poston will talk about genetic counseling at a FREE seminar on Wednesday, June 10 at 6 p.m. at the Adler Health Education Center. Genetic counseling can reveal risk factors that can possibly lead to cancer.

register now

Related Locations

Cancer Nurse Navigators

Cancer Nurse Navigators

Do you or a loved one have cancer? Let our Cancer Nurse Navigators guide the way. Call us today.

563-421-1029
563-421-1030

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