While breast cancer is common, and many women have family members affected by the disease, only about 3-5% of cases of breast cancer are due to inherited changes (mutations) in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 (BRCA1/2) genes. Ovarian cancer is less common, but about 10-15% of cases are related to inherited BRCA1/2 mutations. There are many other causes and risk factors for both breast and ovarian cancer.
Genetic testing for mutations in the BRCA1/2 genes will thus only be helpful to a small percentage of the population. A person who is thinking about BRCA1/2 genetic testing should undergo a careful review of their family history, assessment of their cancer risks and the chance they carry a BRCA1/2 mutation, and discussion of the risks, benefits, and limitations of testing. This is the process of cancer risk assessment/genetic counseling, which should be performed by suitably trained healthcare providers.
This screening tool (B-RST) is NOT designed to determine who should get BRCA1/2 genetic testing, but to identify who should be referred for a comprehensive cancer risk assessment and genetic counseling. The B-RST was tested in a large group of women, and found to have very good accuracy. However, as with most screening tools, it will not identify all women who might carry a BRCA1/2 mutation. Furthermore, some individuals who screen positive on the B-RST may not be found to be appropriate candidates for BRCA1/2 testing when a comprehensive cancer risk assessment is performed.
You should talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions about your B-RST screen or concerns about your family history. Resources for more information on BRCA1/2, genetic testing, genetic counseling and locating cancer risk professionals can be found by clicking here.Start