A Guide to Genetic Testing

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The thought of understanding your breast and ovarian cancer risk can be both comforting and frightening, but when it comes to your health, it’s best to be in the know. Here’s a look at genetic testing, including questions to help you decide whether you should consider getting it done.

Things to remember:

  • Genetic testing for breast and ovarian cancers generally looks at the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
  • A mutation in these genes can increase your risk of developing breast and ovarian cancers.
  • Tests involve giving a blood or saliva sample and it can take a few weeks to yield results.
  • A genetic test is currently the most effective way to determine risk of hereditary cancer.

Should you get tested?

Consult your doctor to determine whether BRCA1 and BRCA2 genetic testing is right for you. There are many factors a person should consider when making this decision—these are just a few questions related to genetic testing and risk factors. For a more comprehensive list of questions, visit a site like mayoclinic.org and consult your doctor.

  • Do you have a personal history of breast cancer diagnosed before age 50?
  • Do you have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer?
  • Has a relative tested positive for a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes?