Q: I am a woman with a BRCA mutation, what can I do to reduce my risk?
A: Women who know they carry a BRCA gene mutation can take proactive steps such as self checks, getting screened regularly which can include mammograms, ultrasounds and MRIs. Risk reducing medication and preventative surgery are also two other options to reduce breast and ovarian cancer risk. The Pink Hope website has further information on ways to reduce your risk and risk reducing measures.
Q: What are the costs involved with genetic testing?
A: If a genetic fault has already been found in your family:
- Free genetic testing for the family genetic fault is available to you. You will need to be referred by your doctor to a local familial cancer service.
- You will then need to provide the service with the name of your relative tested, and where they were tested.
- In many cases, your relative will have given you a Family Letter from their clinic which contains this information.
If a genetic fault has not been found in your family. Some families may qualify for publicly funded (free) genetic testing. Genetic testing of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may be offered for free if:
- There is a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer (at least a 10% chance of having a faulty BRCA1/2 gene in the family, as assessed by a genetic counsellor however, this will depend on the department you are referred to as some departments use a criteria of at least 15% chance of identifying a mutation)
- A relative who has had breast or ovarian cancer themselves is willing to have the testing.
Publicly funded genetic testing is only available through a Family Cancer Clinic
. Your family doctor cannot order genetic testing for BRCA1 or BRCA2.
Your genetic counsellor will work out whether you qualify for free testing. If your family does not qualify, the test can still be done if you elect to pay for it. The price is approximately $2000. The cost of the test is not covered by Medicare or by private health insurance.