What Are BRAC1 and BRAC2?

, , ,

Ever since popular actress Angelina Jolie went public with the fact that she had undergone a double mastectomy as a preventive measure after a specialized test detected a harmful genetic mutation, there has been a lot of publicity surrounding BRAC1 and BRAC2.  BRAC1 stands for “Breast Cancer Susceptibility One” and BRAC2 stands for “Breast Cancer Susceptibility Two.”  The BRAC1 and BRAC2 are two different types of tumor-suppressing genes that help stabilize the cell’s DNA and prevent uncontrollable cell growth.  If there is a harmful mutation in the BRAC1 gene, as in the case of Angelina Jolie, your chances for developing ovarian or breast Cancer go up significantly.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a women has a 12% risk of developing breast Cancer at some point in her life.  If you have a harmful mutation in your BRAC1 gene, your risk of developing breast Cancer at some point in your life jumps from approximately 12% to approximately 60%.

Harmful mutations in the BRAC1 and BRAC2 genes can be detected using a blood test.  Usually it takes several weeks to get the results once the blood has been drawn.  Genetic counseling is recommended both before and after the test.  There is currently no standard for recommending women for testing.  However, women with close relatives who have had breast Cancer and tested positively for these harmful mutations may be referred for testing by their physicians.  The test is covered by some insurance plans and not by others.  It generally costs somewhere in the range of a couple of hundred dollars.

If you test positively for the BRAC1 or BRAC2 mutation, there are a variety of preventive measures that can be taken to help mitigate your risk including extra surveillance (mammography and other tests) and prophylactic surgery.  If you have questions about BRAC1 or BRAC2 testing or your risk for developing breast Cancer, talk to your OBGYN today.

Posted on the Behalf of Marietta OB-GYN Affiliates, P.A.