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Genetic Screening for Breast Cancer Benefits, should you get tested?

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

Listen to our podcast on Breast Cancer and Screening here:

The truth is that one in eight women will develop breast cancer in their lifetime. That means that most of us will either be

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impacted personally or through someone we love by this disease. Maybe you know of someone in your family with breast cancer and know that you may be at risk, or maybe you worry about how other health risk factors contribute to your risk of breast cancer. On the other hand perhaps you don't know your family history or your family size is very small. Since family history isn't tell-all, genetic screening has become paramount for determining individual genetic predisposition.


By meeting with a genetic counselor and taking a sample of blood or saliva, you will be able to determine your risk by assessing the mutations of a few genes. For example, mutations of the BRCA gene 1 and 2 (a tumor suppression gene) have been known for years to contribute to the occurrence of breast cancer. As a result, over 20-200 known genes can be tested to confer predisposition— and eventually, there will be thousands for the same benefit.


The incidence of breast cancer in mutation carriers of the BRCA1 gene increases by 50% or more. The Centers for Disease Control reported that around 10 to 15 percent of all breast cancers are thought to be familial. About one-third of these cases are due specifically to an inherited mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 breast cancer–susceptibility gene.


You may want to consider genetic testing for breast cancer if:

you have a family history of breast or cervical cancer,

  • There are other cancers present in your family,

  • You have ever had breast or cervical cancer,

  • You are premenopausal, or

  • You are of Eastern European descent (specifically Ashkenazi— according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, this genetic population has a 2.5% chance of inheriting a BRCA mutation, or about ten times the rate of the general population).

If you believe this is something relevant for you or a loved one, visit a genetic counselor to resolve which panel may be of most use to you.


Early action allows you the benefit of early intervention. If you find a positive genetic mutation, you are better equipped to work with your provider to determine which screening regimens are most appropriate to you and what options you have to help prevent cancer.


Additional Resources:






Listen to our podcast on Breast Cancer and Screening here:



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