Wednesday 18 January 2017

Who should get tested for BRCA1 and BRCA2 cancer genes?

Published 07/04/2015 | 02:30

Actress Angelina Jolie
Actress Angelina Jolie

Actress Angelina Jolie's admission that she had had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed - on top of the surgery on her breasts in recent years - has led to more awareness about the risks of inherited faulty genes.

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But in the acres of showbiz-style print about her, the message may not be entirely clear about who should be tested.

BRCA1 and BRCA2 are faulty genes linked to ovarian cancer. They're also known to increase the risk of breast cancer. Having a family history of ovarian cancer, especially if the cancer developed before the age of 50, could mean the faulty genes run in your family.

Read more: Three Irish sisters who carry same deadly gene as Angelina Jolie

You may be at a high risk of having a faulty gene if you have:

• One relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age and at least two close relatives with breast cancer whose average age is under 60; all of these relatives should be on the same side of your family (either your mother's or father's side)

• One relative diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age and at least one close relative diagnosed with breast cancer under the age of 50; both of these relatives should come from the same side of your family

Read more: Double mastectomies may not reduce cancer survival rates, study shows

• Two relatives from the same side of the family diagnosed with ovarian cancer at any age.

*If you're at a higher risk of having a faulty gene, your GP can refer you for tests to check for faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

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