BRCA Gene Testing for Breast Cancer

Updated on October 02, 2013
S.J. asks from Cherryville, MO
4 answers

Has anyone had this testing done recently? I searched on here and found posts from many years back. My gyn recommended I have the test, as my grandmother, mother, aunt and cousin all have/had breast cancer. My cousin's test came back negative, despite her parents both having it on their side, and she still got breast cancer. I am hearing such conflicting information from doctors, what I read, and family members, I am just at a loss. Anyone had this done or have any information to provide? My second appointment with the genetic counselor is tomorrow.....

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answers from Columbia on

I guess I feel about this the same way that I feel about IQ testing.

I know, I know.... it seems like a leap. But really, it's not.

once you have the info.... what are you going to do with it? You can have a high IQ and be "dumb". You can have a low IQ and be a CEO. It's not about the test result.

A positive result for the BRCA test is seen in about 5% of the breast cancers and 10% of the ovarian cancers in all women.
A positive test tells only tells you that you have a significantly higher than average chance of developing breast cancer. But based on your history.... don't you know that already?

Also a negative result doesn't put you in the clear. At all. In fact, if your family members all test negative you can STILL get breast cancer - which you already know. the gene mutation is there in only FIVE percent of all woman who get breast cancer. So, out of the 211,731 people in 2009 (based on CDC statistics) who were diagnosed with breast cancer..... over 200,000 of them did NOT have the mutation (based on the 5% rule).

I also want to reiterate that testing positive for the BRCA gene doesn't really tell you anything other than you have a higher chance than average of getting breast or ovarian cancer.... not that you WILL get cancer. So, I go back to what will you do with that information? How will it help you?

- Will you do better monthly exams? Why not do that anyway....
- Will you for sure get a mammogram screening? Why not do that anyway?
- Will you have anxiety just "waiting for the shoe to drop" if you test positive? Why put yourself through that.
- Will you relax if your test is negative? You shouldn't..... because a negative result doesn't mean you won't get breast cancer. You must be just as diligent with early detection measures.

Having said all that.... I would get the test. I think all the data they can get will enable them to analyze and predict which will be beneficial in the future. But I don't know that *I* would personally USE the information for anything. If you know what I mean.

Good Luck with your decision.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

no, but I have heard it makes more sense to have the family members that have/had breast cancer tested first because if they don't carry the BRCA gene neither will you. It only picks up that specific gene, it is not a test for all forms of breast cancer.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

You know that you have more of a chance of getting cancer due to family members. Take that info and be proactive. Testing for the BRAC is okay but what are you going to do with it? Are you going to have a mastectomy because of a positive result? Are you going to do radiation or chemo because of a positive result? Usually your doctor and you have to make the decision. You must weigh the options of your decision as you will live with the results.

My thought on the testing would be like the Chicken Little theory of the sky is falling and running around. You can't live your life worrying constantly and wondering when the other shoe will drop. You have to live your life as it is and enjoy everyday as if it is your last.

I have family members who have had breast cancer and have had mastectomies. I had breast cancer and had a lumpectomy. I have check ups annually. I live my life and enjoy it and appreciate each and every day I have. I had radiation not chemo.

Consult with your doctor and make a plan on how to live. Get back to us with your decision.

the other S.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Louisville on

My question would be: does insurance cover the test? If so, why not get it done? If it's not covered , then I'd say ! @%# it. You already know you have a strong familial history so just be vigilant about home checks and mammograms.

1 mom found this helpful
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