According to the National Cancer Institute the BRCA1 and BRCA2 are genes that are responsible for producing tumor suppressor proteins. When there is a mutation in one of these genes it increases the chance that DNA damage isn’t repaired properly. This increases the chance of cells becoming cancerous.
About 20-25% of hereditary breast cancers are associated with mutations on these genes and about 5-10 % of all breast cancers. Also, about 15% of all ovarian cancers are a result of mutations on the BRCA genes. Other cancers that can occur with these gene mutations include fallopian tube, peritoneal, prostate, and pancreatic cancers.
Testing is available for the BRCA gene mutations through a blood or saliva test. Testing is not recommended for the general population. However, individuals with a personal or family history of certain cancers may meet the criteria for testing.
Positive results to not necessarily mean someone will develop cancer, it means they are at increased risk and therefore may be offered heightened surveillance, medications or surgery to reduce risk. Alternatively, a negative results does not mean someone will not develop cancer.
Ask your healthcare provider if you meet criteria for testing.
For more information www.cancer.gov