Who might consider having a genetic test for a cancer gene mutation?
Genetic testing is a process for families, not for individual women. Because there are so many BRCA1 and 2 mutations, it is important to investigate a particular mutation over generations and to identify its connection to the incidence of breast or ovarian cancer in that family. Families that might wish to consider genetic counseling — a necessary first step before genetic testing — include those with four or more women who have had breast or ovarian cancer across at least two generations; those with a blood relative who has had both breast and ovarian cancer; or those with male relatives who have had breast cancer. A woman who was diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer before age 45 might want genetic counseling, even if she had only a few relatives with a history of the disease, because of the possibility of a rare genetic problem that could affect her sisters and children (of either sex). Remember, too, that genetic counseling is available to any woman who is concerned about her