Positive: What Should I Do Now?
Be ready to take action. Inherited risk for breast and ovarian cancer no longer means that cancer is inevitable. A positive test result gives you valuable information you can use to:
- Reduce your risk
- Take proactive steps
- Make informed choices
Below you'll find a starting place, including sections on:
- Monthly breast self-exams beginning between the ages of 18 and 21 and annual or semiannual clinical breast exams, beginning between the ages of 25 and 35
- Yearly mammography and breast MRI beginning between the ages of 25 and 35 (or starting earlier, based on family history)
- Annual or semiannual transvaginal ultrasound to screen for ovarian cancer beginning between the ages of 25 and 35 (or starting earlier, based on family history)
- Drugs such as tamoxifen have been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer
- Oral contraceptives may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer
- Preventive removal of the breasts (mastectomy) significantly reduces the risk of breast cancer
- Preventive removal of the ovaries (oophorectomy) significantly reduces the risk of ovarian cancer, and also breast cancer
- Regular monthly breast self-exam
- Annual clinical breast exam
- Talk to your doctor about mammography
- Follow population screening guidelines for prostate cancer
Some families also have an increased incidence of pancreatic tumors. Talk to your doctor about pancreatic cancer screening.
BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are passed on in a family. Now that a mutation has been identified in you:
- Your close blood relatives (parents, children, brothers, and sisters) have a 50% chance of having the same mutation
- More distant relatives (cousins, uncles, and aunts) also have a chance of having the mutation that runs in your family
- Generally, the mutation is only going to be found on the side of your family (father's or mother's) that has the history of breast and ovarian cancer
Your relatives can be offered Single Site BRACAnalysis®* to determine whether or not they have the same mutation.
- Relatives interested in testing will need to know your specific mutation. It is best to provide your relatives with a copy of your test result which you can obtain from your doctor
- Single Site BRACAnalysis® costs much less than a comprehensive test and is usually covered by insurance
If your relative is:
- Positive for the mutation, he/she has the increased cancer risks associated with BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations and can benefit from creating an action plan with her or his doctor
- Negative for the mutation, he/she has an average risk of cancer and should follow general population screening guidelines
Your doctor can help decide which of your relatives should consider testing. If you need a copy of your genetic test result, please contact the doctor who ordered your test.
* If you had a Multisite 3 BRACAnalysis®, your relatives may need Multisite testing instead of Single Site BRACAnalysis®; discuss this possibility with your doctor.
Knowing your BRCA status can help you take steps to reduce your risk of a second cancer or detect it at an early, more treatable stage. You and your doctor may also want to consider stronger measures to prevent the possibility of developing another cancer. Some options include preventive medication or prophylactic (preventive) surgery.
Work with your treatment team to come up with a plan that is right for you.
You can work with your doctor to discuss the most appropriate next steps.
- Obtain a copy of your test result from the doctor who ordered your test
- Create a plan for medical management, that may include:
- Increased surveillance
- Preventive surgery
- Risk-reducing medication
- Share your test result with your relatives
- Stay in touch with your doctor and stay informed
You can call Myriad's Medical Services Department at (800) 469-7423 for:
- Answers to questions about your test result
- Information about testing for your relatives
Resources available on this Web site include:
- Links to Support Organizations
- A sample letter you can send to relatives who want to know about test results