Thinking about cancer or dealing with cancer risk can be scary or overwhelming, but we believe that receiving information and resources is comforting, empowering, and lifesaving.
Genetic testing involves taking a sample of blood, cheek swab, or tissue in order to analyze a person’s genes. Genetic testing can be used to determine if someone has a change in their genes (mutation) that make them more likely to develop certain diseases such as cancer.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 are the most common genes involved in hereditary breast and ovarian cancers. These genes can also increase the risk for other cancers, including male breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, prostate cancer, and melanoma. Other gene mutations have been discovered that increase the risk for these cancers including "PALB2," "CHEK2," "ATM," "BRIP1" and others.
Genetic testing can be performed on either a blood or cheek swab sample to tell if a person has one of these mutations. These tests do not detect whether a person has cancer or not; it indicates whether a person carries a change in one of these genes which can increase cancer risk.
Genetic testing can be complex:
For these reasons, it is important to speak with a specialist in cancer genetics—known as a genetic counselor—if you are concerned that cancer may run in your family or if you are interested in genetic testing.