Hereditary Cancer and Genetic Testing

Cancer risk associated with inherited BRCA2 mutations

If you have tested positive for a BRCA2 mutation, we recommend that you consult with a genetics expert who can assess your personal and family history of cancer, and help you determine the best risk management plan.

Research on lifetime cancer risk for people with BRCA2 mutations has varied. The following risks are estimates based on review of different large studies. The average age of a cancer diagnosis is younger in people with a BRCA2 mutation than people who do not have a mutation. 


Risks in women

  • Breast cancer: The lifetime risk for a women with a BRCA2 mutation is 45 - 55 percent compared to 12.5 percent for an average risk woman. 
  • Ovarian cancer: The lifetime risk for a women with a BRCA2 mutation is 10 - 20 percent compared with 1.3 percent for an average risk woman.
  • Second breast cancer in women who have alread been diagnosed with breast cancer: The lifetime risk is about 26 percent.


Risks in men

  • Prostate cancer: The lifetime risk for a man with a BRCA2 mutation is about 32 percent compared to 12 percent for an average risk man. Prostate cancers in men with inherited BRCA2 mutations may be more aggressive than in men without an inherited mutation. 
  • Breast cancer: The lifetime risk for a man with a BRCA2 mutation is about 7 percent. Breast cancers in men with inherited BRCA2 mutations tend to occur at a younger age than men who do not have an inherited mutation.


Risks in both men and women

  • Pancreatic cancer: The lifetime risk for a person with a BRCA2 mutation is about 5 percent compared to 1 percent for an average risk person. 
  • Research on how mutations in the BRCA2 gene affect cancer risk is ongoing. Some research suggests that BRCA2 mutations may increase risk for melanoma. However, because these studies are not conclusive, genetics experts often look at a person’s family history of cancer to help people with BRCA2 mutations understand their risk for additional cancers.

Graph of lifetime risk for breast cancer in women with a <abbr
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                class='glossary-tip tt-brca2'
                title='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
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            >BRCA2</abbr> mutation     

Lifetime pancreatic cancer risk in people with a <abbr
                data-toggle='tooltip'
                class='glossary-tip tt-brca2'
                title='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
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            >BRCA2</abbr> mutation     Graph of lifetime risk for prostate cancer in men with <abbr
                data-toggle='tooltip'
                class='glossary-tip tt-brca2'
                title='<p>BRCA2&nbsp;is a gene found on chromosome 13. Mutations in BRCA2&nbsp;increase the risk for cancers including breast, ovarian, pancreatic, prostate, melanoma and possibly other cancers. BRCA2&nbsp;mutations are among the genes associated with Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer Syndrome, also known as HBOC.&nbsp;</p>
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            >BRCA2</abbr> mutations

clinical-trials

The following are studies are looking at cancer risks in people with a BRCA2 mutation.