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Breast & Ovarian Risk Evaluation Program

Genetic Testing for Breast and Ovarian Cancer

Cancer genetics is something we hear a lot about as celebrities such as Angelina Jolie have made medical decisions due to genetic predisposition for cancer. But how do you know if you might have a cancer causing gene? Oncologist and Director of the University of Michigan Cancer Genetics Clinic, Elena Stoffel, M.D., shares the ins and outs of when, who and if you should have genetic testing.

Two genes, BRCA1 and BRCA2, are known to dramatically increase a woman's risk of developing breast cancer and ovarian cancer in her lifetime.

More than 190,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. But only 5-10% of those breast cancers are caused by an inherited genetic mutation. The same gene can put women at a higher risk of ovarian cancer as well. Genetic counseling for BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations can tell a woman whether she is at increased risk for these cancers. The test does not guarantee who will or will not get breast cancer or ovarian cancer.

Those most appropriate for genetic counseling have:

  • High numbers of family members with cancer diagnoses (especially breast and ovarian) throughout several generations, either maternal or paternal
  • Family member diagnosed with cancer before age 50
  • Family members who have been diagnosed with multiple cancers (for example, breast and ovarian)
  • Male breast cancers, or clusterings of other cancers such as colon, prostate, stomach or pancreatic

While it's important for every woman to understand her individual risk, genetic testing may not be the right option for everyone.

Make an appointment/referral

Please call 734-764-0107. If you would like to refer a patient, please contact our M-Line service: 800-962-3555.

Still have questions?

The nurses at Cancer AnswerLine have answers. Call 1-800-865-1125 and you'll get a personal response from one of our registered nurses, who have years of experience in caring for people with cancer.

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