Mutations, or alterations, in the “cancer-fighting” genes BRCA1 or BRCA2, can dramatically increase a person’s risk of breast cancer. Women with a mutation in BRCA1/2 have a 6-7 times greater risk of developing breast cancer, and men with the mutation have an over 80 times greater risk. For these reasons, it is recommended that certain women with breast cancer be tested for BRCA1/2 mutations, such as if diagnosis was before age 50 or if multiple breast cancers are found in the same family.
However, even though we know that there is 1 in 2 chance of a child inheriting the BRCA mutation from their affected parent, it is not recommended for adolescents to receive genetic testing. Dr. Angela Bradbury, a recipient of the Advanced Clinical Research Award from the Conquer Cancer Foundation (2013-2016) which is supported by BCRF, recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology a study “that highlights the need to better understand the potential benefits and harms of extending testing for BRCA1/2 during childhood adolescence.”