Predicting Hereditary Breast Cancer: It’s More Than Just BRCA1 and BRCA2

When it comes to predicting hereditary breast cancer risk, you have probably heard of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Actress Angelina Jolie famously revealed her BRCA1 positive status in order to raise awareness about Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer syndrome (HBOC). Although inherited mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 can dramatically increase a person’s risk for breast and ovarian cancers, there are other genes that can also heighten a predisposition to breast cancer.

In fact, experts have identified at least 10 other genes that may increase breast cancer risk. How do you find out if you carry a high-risk gene mutation? Luckily, you don’t need to get 10 different tests. Even with these additional genes, identifying risk can start with a single blood or saliva test that can identify mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 as well as within other genes simultaneously.

Why get tested?

A recent study of over 35,000 breast cancer survivors published in the American Cancer Society’s journal Cancer found that multi-gene testing can reveal DOUBLE the number of high-risk gene mutations as compared to testing BRCA1/2 alone.1

Not only does multi-gene hereditary cancer testing identify many more potential causes of hereditary breast cancer risk, the results can also empower you and your clinician to proactively manage your risk. Studies have shown that early detection and prevention options2 can significantly improve outcomes for women at hereditary risk for breast cancer.3

Do you need testing according to your health history?

Multi-gene hereditary cancer testing may be useful to you if:

  • You previously tested negative for mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 only
  • You have a personal or family history suggestive of hereditary cancer

To learn more:

  1. Gather a three-generation family history, including:
    • All cases of cancer
    • The age of diagnosis for those cancers
    • The relationship to you of the person affected by cancer
    • Any previous hereditary cancer testing results
  2. Ask your clinician to assess your personal and family history for hereditary cancer risk factors, and determine whether multi-gene hereditary cancer testing may be useful in helping to define and manage your cancer risks.

For more information about hereditary cancer testing, connect with True Health’s Medical Services and Genetic Counseling experts: 1.877.494.0030.

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1Buys SS et al., A Study of Over 35,000 Women With Breast Cancer Tested With a 25-Gene Panel of Hereditary Cancer Genes.  Cancer 2017 May 15;123(10):1721-1730.


3Ludwig KK, Risk reduction and survival benefit of prophylactic surgery in BRCA mutation carriers, a systematic review. Am J Surg 2016 Oct;212(4):660-669.