For some, the diagnosis of breast cancer will be made having tested positive for carrying a faulty human gene, which means that they inherited from their mother or father a mutated or altered (faulty) BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene. This is referred to as being BRCA positive (BRCA+).
Being BRCA+ increases the risk of developing other cancers:
- In women: ovarian cancer, fallopian cancer, peritoneal cancer, pancreatic cancer
- In men: prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer
Genetic testing for this gene mutation is recommended when the person’s family or medical history suggests a pattern, or presence, of breast and ovarian cancers.
A BRCA+ cancer diagnosis raises particular concern that are unique to this situation because other family members may be at risk as well, or may have already been diagnosed:
- How to talking to your family/children about the inherited connection
- What surgical decisions to make, including prophylactic (preventive) mastectomy and salpingo-oophorectomy
- Preserving fertility before treatment (i.e. egg harvesting)
- Disclosing genetic risk to a partner in a new relationship
It is important to recognize that your age, marital/partnership status, breast cancer diagnosis, and family history are all factors in how your BRCA+ status could emotionally impact your life.
If you find that you are struggling with these issues, even after discussing these concerns with your doctor, than you may want to consider counseling with our experts.
To quote Maureen Shawn Kennedy, MA, RN, editor-in-chief of American Journal of Nursing, in an article in Science Daily, “While learning you have the mutation can empower a women to reduce her risk of developing cancer or detect it in its earlier stages, it can cause her to worry for herself, her children and change how she views her life options.”