A cancer diagnosis is mainly associated with medical family history, lifestyle choices, and environment. And while you can not control your family history or environment, healthy lifestyle choices, such as weight control, nutritional diet, and regular exercise, can help reduce the risk of developing cancer.
Cancer tests are something most of us tend to avoid. These are not something we look forward to. However, delaying them is not a great idea. Getting tested frequently is something every person should do, especially for those with a medical family history of cancer.
We all know how common breast cancer is among women. Hence, every woman needs to undergo gene tests to lower the risk of developing any cancer. This article contains everything you should know about BRCA gene testing.
What is BRCA Gene Test?
The BRCA gene test is a medical test that assesses if your body has any gene mutation in BRCA. Gene mutations are commonly inherited from your parents. And these mutations can increase the risk of developing certain cancers.
What are BRCA1 and BRCA2 Genes?
BRCA genes, also known as “Tumor Suppressors, are genes responsible for regulating the growth of cells. Every human has two copies of BRCA1 and BRCA2. You get one copy from your mother and the other from your father. If there is any abnormality or changes in these genes, it can lead to uncontrollable cell growth – hence resulting in cancer.
What Happens If You have a BRCA Gene Mutation?
Gene mutations are not very common. For example, if your father has a BRCA gene mutation, you are most likely to get this mutation. This is because the BRCA gene mutations are inherited from parents.
Gene mutations are from generation to generation. They do not skip generations. As a result, having a BRCA gene mutation means you are at higher risk of getting any cancer (mainly breast, ovarian, or prostate) than those who don’t have the gene mutation.
When Should a Woman Get BRCA Gene Test?
Typically, the medical professions rely on family history to identify if an individual has a mutation in their genes. However, this doesn’t always work. The following factors found in women should go for BRCA gene testing once in their life;
- Women from age 38 to 45
- Women with breast or ovarian cancer
- Women who developed cancer at a young age
- Women with bilateral cancer
Do Gene Mutations Affect Men?
Yes. While women with genes mutation are at a 50% risk of developing breast cancer, men with gene mutations are at a 30% risk of developing cancer. Furthermore, men with BRCA gene mutation commonly develop prostate or pancreatic cancer.
When Should a Men Get BRCA Gene Test?
Not everyone who has BRCA gene mutations are likely to develop cancer. However, it’s always necessary and safe to get tested. If you want to go for a BRCA gene test, you must consider your medical and family history to decide if BRCA gene testing is proper for you. As a man, you should go for the BRCA gene test only if you have any of the below signs;
- If your parent has passed down a gene mutation to you
- One relative with male breast or prostate cancer before the age of 50
- Two relatives with breast cancer before the age of 50
- Recurrent two breasts, ovarian, prostate, or pancreatic cancer in one relative
- Triple-negative breast cancer before age 60
If unsure, we suggest reaching out to a professional genetic doctor to determine if a BRCA gene test would be helpful for you. The consultation usually takes 45 minutes. It involves a thorough discussion of personal and family history.