Should I Get the BRCA Test?

January 16, 2015 7:41 PM

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I remember when I first saw the acronym "BRCA" and wondered if it was a stock ticker symbol or perhaps the name of a new activist group. I quickly realized that it represented something much more relevant to me and to all women. BRCA stands for Breast ("BR") and Cancer ("CA") and refers to human genes (little bits of code within the body's cells) that help repair damage to our cells. When BRCA genes become mutated, or altered, to the point where they can no longer repair damage in other cells, then those cells with mistakes can ultimately become a cancerous growth. We need the protein that the BRCA genes code for in order to stay healthy.

A BRCA gene test is a blood test that checks for any mutations in the BRCA genes, of which there are two types, BRCA1 and BRCA2 and many subtypes. If the test finds gene changes in either BRCA1or 2 (termed a "positive" result), this means your risk of breast or ovarian cancer is higher, and that the...

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