Knowledge is a powerful way to help control a scary health situation. In a study, women at high risk for breast cancer who had genetic testing got psychological benefits from knowing their results.
About 10% of breast cancers are associated with an inherited genetic abnormality. The most common genetic abnormalities involve genetic mutations called BRCA1 and BRCA2. Testing for BRCA1 and BRCA2 abnormalities is not necessary for most women. BRCA1 and BRCA2 testing is appropriate for women who are at high risk based on a strong family history of breast cancer.
Women who test positive for BRCA1 or BRCA2 can’t lower their breast cancer risk by changing their genes. So if you're at high risk, you might wonder why you should be tested. There are a number of good reasons to do so.
First, you and your doctor can develop an aggressive breast cancer screening and detection plan. If you know you have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 abnormality, there's a greater likelihood that your insurance company will pay for the stepped up screening routine. Second, if you are diagnosed with breast cancer, you and your doctor can develop a treatment plan that takes your genetics into consideration. Finally, knowing about your genetic abnormality and high risk for breast cancer can help future generations in your family make the best decisions for their health.
If you're concerned about your breast cancer risk based on your family history, talk to your doctor. Together, you can review your family history decide whether genetic testing is right for YOU.