How does a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation affect my risk of cancer?

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If you have a defect (mutation) in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, it means that you may have an 18 to 62 percent chance of getting ovarian cancer.

Everyone has the BRCA genes. They are designed to help prevent the overproduction of cells. Only about 10 percent of women with ovarian cancer have a mutation in one or both of these genes.

If you have a history of ovarian cancer in your family, you can seek the help of a qualified genetic counselor to conduct an extensive genetic/medical history and obtain advice about whether or not to proceed with the test. If either of these genes is defective, it doesn't mean you'll get cancer. Plus, you can take preventive steps such as having your ovaries removed to significantly reduce your risk. Seek advice from your healthcare professional on how to proceed.

Dr. David A. Fishman, MD
Gynecologic Oncologist

Women who carry a breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) or breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2) gene mutation have a 56 to 85 percent chance of developing breast cancer by age 70. The associated lifetime risk for ovarian cancer is 20 to 40 percent for BRCA1 mutations and 10 to 27 percent for BRCA2 mutations.

In addition, BRCA2 mutations are associated with an increased risk of male breast cancer, and mutations in both genes may slightly increase the risk of prostate and colon cancer. Research continues to define the cancer spectrum associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations, and the magnitude of risk for each type of cancer.

Continue Learning about Breast Cancer

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.