- EmiliaUngur / shutterstock
Now, the name Mary-Claire King and her innovative scientific achievements with the BRCA1 gene will resonate with many people. Although testing began more than 20 years ago, it has only been in recent years that has expanded its impact and expanded. But what exactly is the BRCA test (Breast Cancer test)?
According to the Mayo Clinic, the BRCA test is a blood test that uses DNA analysis to identify dangerous changes in one of the two breast cancer susceptibility genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2). Those who inherit the gene have a higher risk than most who have breast and ovarian cancer.
Although this test has two decades of information for that information, there are still many people who have never heard of it. And, for those who have heard it, there are many more misconceptions about what the test is doing, what it means, and who should get it.
If you are one of the two people mentioned above, here are some debunked myths – and a little information – about the BRCA test that you want to keep useful.
Myth: The test will tell you whether you will get cancer.
Although taking a BRCA test can make you believe that this test will tell you whether you will get cancer or not, Dr. Talya Miron-Shatz – social psychologist, founder and CEO of Cure My Way and Buddy & Soul – told INSIDER unfortunately, that won't happen.
"One of the main ways in which women are wrong about BRCA is when they don't realize what the gene means," he said. "Dramatically increasing the likelihood of developing breast and / or ovarian cancer, but one third of the women we studied told us that it was very important & # 39; for them that the test will tell them with certainty whether they will develop cancer or not. Of course, there is no certainty like that. "
Myth: The test will tell you what to do if you have a gene.
Although we want to think that the BRCA test is similar to a career aptitude test and will tell us what we have to do if it is found that we have genes, that is not really the purpose of the test. And according to Dr. Miron-Shatz, the assumption is more general than you think.
"Likewise, one third of women said it was very important for them that the test would tell them what to do if they had genes," said Miron-Shatz. "Obviously, there is no test that can do that. In fact, no doctor will tell you what to do – especially in conditions such as breast cancer, where medical results from frequent tests or preventive mastectomy are very similar. "
Read more: How can the mutant gene Angelina Jolie cause cancer
Myth: No need to worry about breast cancer if you test negatively.
- Jim Bourg / Reuters
Dr. Constance Chen – certified plastic surgeon and breast reconstruction specialist – told INSIDER that the misinterpretation that many women experience about the BRCA test is that they are truly safe if they test negative. That's really not true.
"More than 90% of women who have breast cancer do not have hereditary breast cancer," Chen said. "In contrast, more than 90% of women who suffer from breast cancer do not have a family history and BRCA-negative but they develop breast cancer due to spontaneous mutations and environmental factors. At the end of the day, the biggest risk factor for breast cancer is breast. "
Myth: BRCA tests are only needed for women because men don't get breast cancer.
Because many of the stories you hear about breast cancer are from women, it might be easy to assume that men are safe to get them. Because of this, men may think that the BRCA test does not apply to them, but it is completely wrong.
"Men can get breast, prostate, and pancreatic cancer, which are at a higher risk of experiencing BRCA mutations," Dr. Chen. "In addition, men can carry on BRCA mutations to their children, so that it can help tell the whole family about the risk of their own cancer."
Myth: Things won't end well if you test positive for the BRCA Test.
- T P / Shutterstock
A positive test for the BRCA test can cause concern for patients and their families, but Dr. Chen told INSIDER that that did not mean that it was a guarantee that you would get cancer.
"BRCA tests positively significantly increase the risk of breast, ovarian and other cancers, but that does not guarantee the development of cancer," he said. "About 12% of women in the general population will develop breast cancer at some time in their lives, and women with BRCA mutations can increase their risk up to five times higher than women without mutations."
Myth: If you have previously been diagnosed with cancer, a BRCA test is not needed.
- Justin Sullivan / GettyImages
If you have had cancer before or are currently living with it, taking a BRCA test should not be completely removed from your checklist because it can actually help you during your trip.
"Knowing your BRCA status can affect your treatment choice if you have been diagnosed with cancer," Chen told INSIDER. "It can also help you become aware of other cancers to watch out for. Finally, this can help your family learn about their risk for developing cancer. "
Myth: You cannot get a test if your insurance does not cover it.
- Getty Images / Christopher Furlong
One of the biggest myths surrounding the BRCA test – and one of the most common reasons why more people don't get it – is the assumption that insurance companies don't cover it. According to Chen, however, this is not true.
"BRCA testing is covered by most insurance plans," he said. "But even if your insurance provider does not cover BRCA testing, there are companies that will offer free BRCA testing for eligible patients."
Myth: There is no risk of cancer because there is no family history.
According to Dr. Robert Segal, one of the founders of LabFinder.com, many people have avoided the BRCA test because they believe they were released from being diagnosed with cancer.
"The most common myth is that if they don't have a family history of cancer, then they don't need to be tested because they are not at risk," he said. "In fact, 47% of women with BRCA mutated cancer have no family history of cancer."
Myth: You only have to pay attention to history from your maternal side.
- Flickr / Peter Werkman
Because many people think that only women who are susceptible to cancer get it exclusively for the mother's side of your family. Dr. Segal told INSIDER that this is actually the wrong way to think.
"Another big misconception about the BRCA test is that people only have to look at the mother's side of your family," Dr. Segal. "The BRCA gene can be derived from mother or father, which means that men and women must be tested."
Visit INSIDER Home for more.