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JLeslie's avatar

Do you know anyone positive for the BRCA gene who doesn't have a family history of breast cancer?

Asked by JLeslie (61541points) April 17th, 2017 from iPhone

As far as I know the only women who get the test for the BRCA gene have family histories. Women with family histories already know they are at increased risk. I know women who have multiple women in their family who died from breast cancer, and they eventually got breast cancer themselves, and are negative for the gene.

I have no problem with gathering more info about breast cancer, for both the patient and the researchers, but women with family histories don’t gain much info, except that it might help them make decisions about treatment. I could see where it would really help women with no knowledge of family history.

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2 Answers

2davidc8's avatar

Typically, the only reason to get tested for one of the BRCA gene mutations is if you have a family history of breast cancer or if you have breast cancer and want to know if it was inherited. So, you probably won’t find many people who don’t have a family history of breast cancer yet got tested for one of the BRCA mutations, unless the test was part of a comprehensive test of many different genetic markers.
Just because a person tests positive for one of the BRCA mutations doesn’t necessarily mean he/she will get breast cancer (though they are at a higher risk). And just because a person has breast cancer doesn’t necessarily mean he/she carries a BRCA gene mutation. Only 15–20% of breast cancers are inherited.

JLeslie's avatar

^^I know. That’s almost why the positive result is irrelevant. People who take the test almost always already know they are at very high risk. BRCA is more than increased risk, its something like 65%+ of people positive develop breast cancer. That’s a huge risk. And, we know science doesn’t know all the genetic markers because of the high prevalance of breast cancer in certain families who are negative for the BRCA genes.

It’s like for me I don’t need a test to know I’m at high risk for heart disease and colon cancer. What is helpful is being able to test for things that help me mitigate. Cholesterol, calcium, and there are more extensive tests I could do if I wanted to know how close I probably am to death ~. Removing colon polyps for the colon cancer.

Having said all that I don’t fault anyone for wanting to take the BRCA test.

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