Cancer is the most common disease affecting humans worldwide. In particular, breast cancer is the most common cancer affecting every woman out of 8. On the other hand, prostate cancer affects one man out of seven in their lifetime. As a result, a true cutting-edge advancement in medicine is our ability to test human DNA. And, what’s more, excellent is the ability to test for the BRCA mutation to highlight which is a broken gene running in your family.This blog aims to help you understand the cancer risk associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations (for both males and females). We also provide comprehensive information related to cancer screening tests. Read on to learn more.
What is BRCA Gene Test?
BRCA gene testing is a medical test used to assess the risk of developing cancer (mainly breast or ovarian) associated with hereditary mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
What are BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes?
The BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes are the common genes linked to hereditary breast or ovarian cancer. Every person is born with two copies of BRCA1 and BRCA2, each passed down from their parents. Unfortunately, some people have a genetic mutation on one of these copies, resulting in the gene not performing as it should. Hence, it increases the risk of developing certain types of cancers. Furthermore, it is essential to understand that carrying a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation does not always mean you have cancer. Instead, it only means you have a higher risk of developing cancers than those without gene mutations.
Is Genetic Counselling Important before Gene Testing?
Absolutely yes. Genetic counselling before gene testing is vital to decide whether you qualify for the BRCA test. In addition, a genetic counsellor will determine whether you or your family risk having a gene mutation. Genetic testing is also suggested if you have a strong history of cancer. We have mentioned some qualifying factors in the upcoming section.
When do you Qualify for BRCA Gene Testing?
You qualify for BRCA gene testing if you or someone in your family has a medical history of developing cancer before age 50. The BRCA gene testing includes searching for gene mutation through veinous blood, saliva, or tissue sample from the cheek.Below is a list of the most common risk factors to qualify for the BRCA gene test.
Strong family history of cancer
A family member with a BRCA mutation
Prostrate, ovarian, or breast cancer at any age
If the BRCA gene testing reveals you have an inherited faulty gene, there are some ways to lower the risk of developing cancer. Some things you can do are;
Stop alcohol consumption
Eat more protein
Less sun exposure
What Happens if You don’t have a Family History of Cancer?
After a thorough assessment with the genetic counsellor, if your family doesn’t have a strong cancer history, you are unlikely to develop an inherited gene mutation. However, you have the same risk of developing cancer in this situation as others. The genetic counsellor may also advise you to undergo regular medical screening.
Deciding whether you should go for a gene test can be challenging. It’s natural to feel confused, anxious and overwhelmed. In addition, thinking about the possibility of developing cancer is nerve-wracking. Therefore, we suggest contacting a genetic doctor or health advisor before you go for BRCA gene testing.