Breast Cancer occurs in approximately 12 % of women who live to age 90. Although a positive family history is reported by 15 to 20 % of women with breast cancer, only 5 to 6 % of all breast cancers are associated with inherited genetic mutations.


Inherited mutations (altered forms) in two genes known as BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer, up to 80% in a life time. Normal BRCA genes function to keep the growth of the body’s cells under control. When one of these genes becomes mutated (altered), cell growth becomes unregulated, paving the way for the development of breast and or ovarian cancer. Mutations in BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 are rare. Although the reported frequency is variable, they affect between 0.1 and 0.8 % of the general population.


A simple blood test for Genetic Testing is available that may identify individuals who have inherited gene mutations that can. Increase the risk of breast cancer. There is also concern that women may obtain false reassurance about their risks of breast cancer if they test negative.

So, who is a candidate for genetic testing for cancer ? Your doctor can do a good screening to identify who should be considered for BRCA testing. Careful history taking is the key, and should include family history of cancer ( more than one first degree relative. With breast cancer), personal history of cancer at a young age (age less than 50), male breast cancer, two or. More cancers, history of ovarian cancer and Ashkenazi ( eastern European ) Jewish heritage(women with this heritage have about a. 2 % chance of carrying a deleterious BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 mutation).

Genetic testing is not an emergency procedure. Taking time to understand the complexities and to discuss questions about the testing is extremely important. Counseling, before and after the genetic testing, helps women consider the implications of either a positive or a negative result, and it helps clarify expectations from testing and anticipate future issues.

At Texas Oncology Cancer Center–McAllen, We offer patients and families at risk for and ovarian cancer the newest state–of–the–art technology in genetic testing, which includes individualized pre and post testing counseling.

Remember: Prevention and early detection cure cancer.

Alvaro Restrepo, MD Oncologist/ Hematologist Breast Cancer Sub–specialist

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