Genetic testing

It is well known that breast and ovarian cancers often occur more frequently in women whose relatives have also had these diseases.

If you answer yes to any of the following questions for either your mother’s or father’s side of the family, you may want to speak to your healthcare professional about assessing your risk of inherited breast and ovarian cancer:

  • Personal or family history of breast cancer before age 50
  • Personal or family history of ovarian cancer at any age
  • Personal or family history of breast and ovarian cancer in the same individual
  • Family history of male breast cancer

Testing for BRCA mutations is valuable and confidential. Knowing your cancer risk may help you and your doctor make better informed decisions about increased surveillances, early detection and treatment of these cancers. A blood test can determine if you have a BRCA mutation. It takes approximately three to four weeks to get the results back. The results will remain confidential between you and your physician.

Should you get tested?

Only you, together with your physician, can decide if BRCA testing is right for you.

In addition, it is strongly recommended that all women who are considering genetic testing receive counseling from a healthcare professional qualified to provide genetic counseling.

Will insurance pay for the test?

Many insurance plans have reimbursed patients for BRCA testing. To find out whether your insurance carrier will provide coverage for you, ask your physician or call The Myriad Reimbursement Assistance Program at 1-800-725-2722. It is important to note that test results are disclosed only to the requesting physician.

Why is this important?

We know that many cases of inherited breast and ovarian cancer are due to an inherited mutation – an alteration in the DNA – in either of two genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2.

Women with these mutations are at much greater risk for breast and ovarian cancer than the population as a whole.

  • By age 50, between 33 and 50 percent of all women with a BRCA mutation will develop breast cancer.
  • Women with a BRCA mutation have a 27 to 44 percent lifetime risk of developing ovarian cancer, versus a less than two percent risk for the general population.
  • Women with a BRCA mutation who have already had breast cancer have up to a 20 percent risk of developing cancer in the other breast within five years of their first diagnosis.

For more information call the ETMC Cancer Institute at 903-595-5550 or visit