BRCA: Best Advice for Patients Who Worry

Sandra Adamson Fryhofer, MD


May 28, 2013

In This Article

Who Should Consider BRCA Testing?

Genetic counseling can be both helpful and informative. Certain populations, as well as individuals with certain family risk factors, are at increased risk. Some BRCA mutations are more common in those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, as well as in Dutch, Norwegian, and Icelandic peoples. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent should consider testing if any first-degree relative -- their mother, daughter, or sister -- has had breast or ovarian cancer, or if 2 second-degree relatives on the same side of the family have been diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.

Family history of cancer patterns alone can also suggest increased risk. For women, these patterns include:

Having a male relative with breast cancer;

Having a mother, daughter, or sister with bilateral breast cancer;

Having 2 first-degree relatives: mother, daughter, or sister who had breast cancer at or before age 50;

Having at least 3 first- or second-degree relatives, which include grandmothers and aunts, diagnosed with breast cancer at any age, or at least 2 relatives with ovarian cancer; and

Having first- and second-degree relatives with breast or ovarian cancer, particularly if a relative has had both breast and ovarian cancer, regardless of the age at diagnosis.


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