Genetic Testing

Genetic Testing Specialist
Genetic testing for breast cancer is a quick in-office test that provides crucial information for women who have an increased risk of developing this disease. At the Oregon Breast Center in Lake Oswego, Oregon, leading breast specialist and surgeon Judith Richmond, MD, FACS provides testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations, along with expert and compassionate, post-results counseling.

Genetic Testing Q & A

by Judith Richmond, MD, FACS

Is genetic testing for breast cancer beneficial?

It can be for some. If you don’t know your family history, for instance, genetic testing certainly can be beneficial for determining your risk of developing breast cancer. About 5-10% of breast cancer cases in the United States are linked to inherited gene mutations. Roughly half of those cases are the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutations that greatly increase your risk of both breast and ovarian cancer.

Who needs breast cancer genetic testing?

Dr. Richmond recommends having genetic testing performed if you have a family member who has a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. You should also consider genetic testing if you have:

Had breast cancer before age 45
Any blood relative who developed breast cancer before age 50
At least two family members who have had breast, pancreatic, or prostate cancer
A personal or family history of ovarian cancer or male breast cancer

The majority of women who develop breast cancer don’t have one of the inherited gene mutations. Generally, breast cancer genetic testing isn’t recommended unless you have certain risk factors, although Dr. Richmond lets you know if it’s something you should consider.

How does a doctor determine my breast cancer risk through genetic testing?

Genetic testing for breast cancer is a simple process. Dr. Richmond either draws blood or collects a saliva sample. Your specimen gets sent off to the lab and within a few weeks, you should have your results back.

Your genetic testing results may come back with no variant, meaning that you don’t have gene mutations that are linked to breast cancer. If your test does show a pathogenic variant — a positive reading — you know your chances of developing breast cancer are high.

The third option is having a variant of uncertain significance. This means that you have a genetic mutation, but it’s unknown whether that specific mutation increases your breast cancer risk. Usually though, these types of results are benign (non-cancerous) variants. Dr. Richmond guides you through your next steps and determines whether you need additional testing or treatment.

If you know the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations run in your family or if you have a high risk of developing breast cancer, schedule a genetic testing appointment either online or over the phone.

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