Who Should be Tested for the BRCA Gene Mutations?
Every woman is born with the BRCA1 (breast cancer gene 1) and BRCA2 (breast cancer gene 2) genes. When functioning normally, these genes do not pose any risk to a woman s health. However, some women may be born with or experience mutations of the BRCA genes through their lifetime. Though researchers are still uncertain what causes changes in these genes to occur, women who have BRCA mutations are at increased risk for developing breast cancer compared with women who do not have these mutations. For example, a 30-year-old woman with a BRCA mutation has a 1 in 3 chance of developing breast cancer during her lifetime (compared with a 1 in 8 chance for women without these genetic mutations). Over a lifetime, women with BRCA mutations have a 50% to an 85% chance of developing breast cancer. In 1996, the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended that only women with a strong family history of breast cancer or those who have developed breast cancer at an early age may be eligible for