By Britt Bickel

Following Angelina Jolie’s revelation that she had undergone a preventative double mastectomy to drastically reduce her risk of developing breast cancer, many women across the country have inquired to their doctors if they should get tested to see if they carry the mutated BRCA1 gene.

Women who carry the BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutation are five times more likely to develop breast cancer, but according to the National Cancer Institute, fewer than 1% of women actually carry the mutated gene.

So how do you know if you should have the genetic testing done to see if you carry the mutated gene? The answer may be lying within your family history.

According to a piece by ABC News, there are a few key factors women should look for in their family history that could indicted if they should get the genetic testing done or not. Take a look at the following factors women should look for when deciding to get testing done, according to NCI.

For women who are not of Ashkenazi Jewish descent:

  • Two first-degree relatives (mother, daughter, or sister) diagnosed with breast cancer, one of whom was diagnosed at age 50 or younger
  • Three or more first-degree or second-degree (grandmother or aunt) relatives diagnosed with breast cancer regardless of their age at diagnosis
  • A combination of first- and second-degree relatives diagnosed with breast cancer and ovarian cancer (one cancer type per person)
  • A first-degree relative with cancer diagnosed in both breasts (bilateral breast cancer)
  • A combination of two or more first- or second-degree relatives diagnosed with ovarian cancer regardless of age at diagnosis
  • A first- or second-degree relative diagnosed with both breast and ovarian cancer regardless of age at diagnosis; and
    breast cancer diagnosed in a male relative.

For women of Ashkenazi Jewish descent:

  • Any first-degree relative diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer
  • Two second-degree relatives on the same side of the family diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer.

The NCI adds that “These family history patterns apply to about 2 percent of adult women in the general population. Women who have none of these family history patterns have a low probability of having a harmful BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.”

For more information about the BRCA gene testing, visit the NCI.


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