What is BRCA Testing and Why Is It Important in Ovarian Cancer?

Just like most of the cancers, there is a high level of risk associated with ovarian cancer. However, this cancer is quite unique as a high percentage of patients suffering from ovary cancer have an inherited mutation.

For this reason, BRCA testing becomes important for people diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

In this post, we will tell you what BRCA testing actually is, as well as, risks and benefits associated with it.

What are BRCA Mutations?

BRCA mutations are the abnormalities inherited in two genes within the human body – BRCA2 and BRCA1.

Usually, such genes help humans to create proteins that repair the affected or damaged DNA. Hence, these genes prevent tumors from growing so that they do not become cancerous.

Women inheriting mutations in the two genes hold a higher risk for developing ovarian cancer, stomach cancer, breast cancer, and other kinds of cancer.

BRCA Testing – The Screening or Testing for BRCA Mutations

BRCA testing is recommended to patients who are diagnosed with an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. It is mandatory for the patient to get this test done, particularly if your family has a history of ovarian cancer.

This is a gene test where genes are examined through a blood sample of the patient. It uses the patient’s DNA to determine cancerous mutations or harmful changes in one of the two susceptible genes – BRCA2 and BRCA1.

Mostly, the results obtained through genetic testing are not 100% accurate.

A positive result implies you have a gene mutation, which enhances the cancer risk. A negative test implies that you are not carrying gene mutation or there are other reasons for your cancer, which have not been discovered. 

Might be, some test results may showcase a gene variant. In such cases, the results may not always deliver accurate results.

Why BRCA Testing is Important?

Having a clear understanding of BRCA mutation helps the doctors to make the most effective treatment plan for the advanced stage ovarian cancer. It also ensures that such cancer episodes do not occur in the future in your family members.

This blood test is done to identify if there are changes or mutations occurred or occurring in your DNA, which increases the risk of ovarian cancer.

The occurrence of mutation in DNA drastically boosts the risk of ovarian cancer as well as other kinds of cancers, like, breast cancer, melanoma, and others.

If your report confirms gene mutation, your doctor can work ahead to manage the risk.

To Whom BRCA Testing is recommended?

You might be at a greater risk of experiencing inherited mutation, which increases the risk of ovarian and breast cancer. Your doctor will consider you a perfect candidate for BRCA testing, if:

  • Your family holds a past history of ovarian cancer.
  • Any member of your family has been diagnosed with any other kind of cancer.
  • You hold a history of experiencing two or more kinds of cancer.
  • You hold a personal history of ovary cancer.
  • If two or more of your relatives are diagnosed with ovary cancer. 
  • A relative or family member is known for BRCA2 or BRCA1 mutation.
  • One or numerous relatives with a history of cancer that meet the criteria for genetic testing.

Benefits Associated with BRCA Testing

For patients suffering from advanced-stage ovarian cancer must get the BRCA testing for gene mutations done. It can help doctors and other females in your family better comprehend the risk of ovarian cancer.

Mutations related to genes are inherited. It implies that a positive test result for gene mutation have a higher chance that relatives or close members of your family may suffer from a similar gene mutation.

But it is not only the female members of your family who can gain an advantage of this knowledge. The male members of your family may also have a higher risk for male breast cancer or prostate cancer.

You can reduce the risk of cancer in women with BRCA mutations through the following ways:

  • Frequent and earlier screenings for cancer
  • Offering medications at an earlier stage to reduce the risk
  • Prophylactic surgery or removal of the ovaries

Risks Associated with BRCA Testing

There is no kind of medical risk associated with BRCA testing. However, the patient may experience a few risks such as bruising, bleeding, or lightheadedness. 

There can be other consequences related to genetic testing such as financial, social, medical, and emotional implications of the test results.

  • If the test result is positive, you may experience:
  • Concerns or issues over financial expenditure
  • Feelings of sadness, depression, anger or anxiety
  • Difficult decisions regarding preventive measures, which can lead to long-term consequences
  • A feeling of inevitability that you experience cancer

However, if the BCRA testing results negative:

  • Uncertainty that might be your test result is not accurate. 

On a Concluding Note

There is a very high level of risk associated with ovarian cancer. However, BRCA testing can help identify the major cause and let your doctor take adequate treatment measures. It is best to get the test done as soon as you are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in order to gain the most effective results. 

Just make sure you contact an expert cancer specialist as only an experienced and proficient specialist can offer you the best assistance and treatment.

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