Other names: Breast Cancer Gene 1 & 2

BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 are tumour suppressor genes; they help to reduce the risk of cancer by producing special forms of protein, which help to prevent abnormal cell growth. Mutations which affect these genes may increase the risk of cancer; mutations are linked to hereditary cases of breast and ovarian cancer.

Why is the test used?

The BRCA-1 and BRCA-2 test is used to assess whether an individual is susceptible to developing breast or ovarian cancer due to an inherited genetic mutation.

The test is usually recommended for women who have a family history of either breast or ovarian cancer.

How is the test performed?

The test is carried out by testing a sample of blood, which is collected from a vein in the arm (usually the veins on the inside of the arm are used as they are often more prominent). A needle is inserted into the vein and blood collected in a syringe, which is attached to the needle. Once the sample has been collected, it will be bottled, sealed, branded with the patient’s name and sent to the laboratory so that it can be analysed.

What do the test results mean?

The presence of a mutated BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene may indicate that the individual has a higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer; however, it is difficult to quantify this risk. The test results must be analysed in accordance with an individual’s family history and general health profile.

A negative result does not mean the individual will not develop breast or ovarian cancer.

Specific Blood Tests

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