A Breast Cancer Diagnosis May Signal a Need for Genetic Counseling
If you have a personal or family health history of breast or ovarian cancer that indicates you could have a BRCA1, BRCA2, or other inherited gene mutations, your doctor may refer you for genetic counseling.
Genetic counselors provide information, resources, and support and help you determine whether you should undergo genetic testing. If you decide to proceed, the test is done on blood you will have drawn. The counselor will also collect pertinent information from you about your family medical history on both sides. If you cannot remember everything, that’s OK. Some people have very little historical information about their families. Whatever you do know will help the counselor obtain the most accurate information.
Genetic counseling and testing can help you and your family understand your risk for breast and ovarian cancer, and can provide screening recommendations for other family members.
Genetic counseling and testing, if appropriate, may be covered without cost sharing by many health plans under the Affordable Care Act when used in accordance with the USPSTF recommendation. For more information on coverage, check with your insurance provider.
Genetic counseling can provide answers to questions like the following:
- Do you have an increased risk for breast, ovarian, or other cancers because of your personal or family health history?
- What are the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and how do they relate to cancer?
- Could the breast, ovarian, or other cancers that run in your family be due to mutations in genes other than BRCA1 and BRCA2?
- What is the chance that you have a BRCA1, BRCA2, or other inherited mutation?
- If you have a BRCA1, BRCA2, or other inherited mutation, what is the chance you will get breast or ovarian cancer?
- How accurate is genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer?
- What are the possible results of genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer and what do they mean?
- What are the potential risks and limitations of genetic testing for hereditary breast and ovarian cancer?
- How will knowing if you carry a BRCA1, BRCA2, or other inherited mutations, help you lower your risks for cancer?
- If you have already had breast or ovarian cancer, how will knowing if you carry a BRCA1, BRCA2, or other inherited mutation affect your treatment plan?
- If you have already had breast or ovarian cancer, what are the chances that you will get cancer again?
If you decide to have genetic testing for hereditary breast or ovarian cancer, additional genetic counseling following the testing can help you better understand the meaning of your test results. You can then use the results to make informed decisions with your surgeon regarding your breast cancer treatment options.